In 1933, Man Ray made a series of photographs using the artist Meret Oppenheim as a model. In this series, entitled Erotique Voilée, Oppenheim stands nude behind an enormous printing press
wheel, her left arm, which is covered with ink, held up to her forehead. The left hand and arm are soiled and impure, but her gesture maintains an ambiguity between the warding off of further
insults and a proud display of her stain.
As a representation of a female artist in the role of a model, made by a male artist, Man Ray's photograph is at the center of a knot of considerations which entangle gender dynamics within Surrealism. In this enigmatic photograph, Oppenheim's eyes are downcast, half her face in the shadow of her ink-covered arm, which gestures palm out at the viewer. Around her neck is a simple black hoop that appears to be made of rubber or some similar material. Her pubic region is obscured by a blatantly phallic wooden handle which protrudes from the printer's wheel in front of her.
The work is representative of the ongoing dynamic between men and women in Surrealism. The utilization of Meret Oppenheim's youthful and frankly alluring image by Man Ray is an example of Whitney Chadwick's claim that male Surrealists were "more inclined to project their desires outward... in bodies Other to theirs, and almost exclusively of an otherness assigned to the feminine." Thus in the symbolic realm the power lay with the feminine, which resulted in both women and men creating art which focused primarily on the feminine.
The female form was central to Man Ray's extensive body of work, which ranged from celebrity portraits to sexually explicit material to Picabian conflations of woman and object, such as Woman, a photograph of an eggbeater. In this work, Man Ray utilizes the linguistic dissonance of Picabia and Duchamp by presenting an image with a seemingly unrelated title. Whether the identification of an eggbeater with woman is intended as an insult, a reference to gender roles, or simply an absurdist prank, is left open to interpretation.