Marcel Jean. Specter of the Gardenia. 1936

Marcel Jean Specter of the Gardenia 1936

  • Not on view

With zippers for eyes and a filmstrip collar around its neck, this figure composes an anxious portrait, but its tactile surface of black cloth, faded red velvet, and zippers is charged with the eroticism of imagined touch. Jean originally called this work Secret of the Gardenia after an old movie reel he discovered, along with the velvet stand, at a Paris flea market. As the artist later recalled, Surrealism's leader André Breton "always pressed his friends to center their interest on Surrealist objects," and "he made a certain number himself." Chance discoveries like the movie reel and velvet stand that inspired this work provided a trove of uncanny items for Surrealists to include, combine, and transform in their works.

Gallery label from The Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection, June 24, 2009–January 4, 2010
Plaster head with painted black cloth, zippers, and strip of film on velvet-covered wood base
13 7/8 x 7 x 9 7/8" (35 x 17.6 x 25 cm) including base 3" high x 7" diameter (7.5 x 17.6 cm)
D. and J. de Menil Fund
Object number
Painting and Sculpture