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The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection

April 2–May 2, 2009

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Collection of Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs. The exhibition features over 30 photographs, paintings, works on paper, and sculpture by renowned Surrealist and Dada artists including Joseph Cornell, Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, René Magritte, Lee Miller, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy, and Dorothea Tanning. A catalogue with essays by art historians Wendy Grossman and Francis M. Naumann and art conservator Paul Messier will accompany the exhibition.

Characterized by inventive visual explorations into the irrational and subconscious, Dada and Surrealism captured the art world’s attention in the early twentieth century. In the decades immediately following World War II, however, interest in these artistic movements waned. Despite their relative obscurity in the 1950s and early 1960s, the predominantly European artists comprising these groups continued to pursue their aesthetic ideals. It was during this time that Rosalind Jacobs née Gersten became acquainted with these creative communities. As a fashion buyer for the Little Shop boutique at Macy’s department store in Manhattan, Jacobs frequently traveled to Paris. A chance invitation in 1954 to meet William and Noma Copley, ardent supporters of the Surrealists, resulted in lifelong friendships with some of the twentieth-century avant-garde’s most notable members.

The Copleys introduced Jacobs to Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, Lee Miller Penrose, and Joseph Cornell, and also embraced Melvin Jacobs, the man Rosalind married in 1957. Perhaps the most significant individual to impact the Jacobs’ lives and collection, however, was the American expatriate artist Man Ray, with whom the couple formed a close bond. Over the years the Jacobs acquired more than 20 works by Man Ray (most selected with his guidance) including 11 rayographs and two portraits of Mrs. Jacobs. In 1962, the couple purchased the original print of Le Violon d’Ingres -- an iconic image of Man Ray’s muse Kiki with a violin’s f-holes superimposed on her back -- directly from Man Ray’s exhibition at the Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris.

The Jacobs maintain that they were never deliberate collectors; rather, the couple sought to support their artist friends at a time when the art world no longer would. As fashion executives, they promoted the assimilation of Surrealist ideas into popular culture and made efforts to market the work of their artistic allies to wider audiences. While the Jacobs’ collection includes arguably some of the most seminal works of the Dada and Surrealist periods, each piece is indelibly linked to the personal relationships through which it was acquired. Be it an impromptu sculpture fashioned by Copley and Man Ray at a dinner party or a photograph of Rosalind made by Man Ray, the Jacobs’ collection underscores the meaningful symbiosis between artists and their patrons.

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