The Lovers, 1933, editioned replica 1973, consists of a rolled
lead sheet with the outline of lips painted onto it. A loop of
rope extends from one end, suggesting a head, while two other
sections of rope, linking the two ends of the lead sheet,
complete the suggestion of a body. The piece has also been known
with the additional titles 'Mon Rêve/My Dream'.
The original piece (now lost) was executed after the ending of Man Ray's passionate, and sometimes tormented, relationship with the beautiful American photographer and model Lee Miller (1907-1977). The lips painted onto the lead piece may have been suggested by a memory of a lipstick imprint of the lips of his former lover Kiki on his collar, but they are recognisably those of Lee, and the object is evidence of his continued longing for her, mingled perhaps with suggestions of suicide (the noose-like rope) and death (the hollow lead 'case'). The theme of the disembodied lips obsessed Man Ray. He included the motif in his best known painting, A l'Heure de l'observatoire, les amoureux, 1932-4, which shows lips floating above a landscape. Of the image of the lips in this painting Man Ray wrote in 1935:
It is seven in the morning, before satisfying an imaginary hunger - the sun not yet decided whether to rise or to set - that your mouth comes to replace all these indecisions [...] Your mouth itself becomes two bodies, separated by a long, undulating horizon. Like the earth and the sky, like you and me ... Lips of the sun, you ceaselessly attract me, and in the instant before I wake up, when I detach myself from my body ... I meet you in the neutral light and in the void of space, and, sole reality, I kiss you with everything that is still left in me - my own lips.