A versatile artist whose practice ranged from painting, photography, and film to poetry and prose, Man Ray was a prominent figure in the avantgarde movements of Dada and Surrealism. While known mostly for his radical experiments with cameraless photography, he also identified as a painter.Read More
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in 1890 in Philadelphia, and raised in New York City, Man Ray abbreviated his first and surnames. After finishing high school in 1908, he became an enthusiastic visitor of art museums and galleries. He frequented 291, a Manhattan space established by the influential photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and it was there that the artist developed a passion for photography.
In 1915 Man Ray befriended Marcel Duchamp, who had come to New York, and the two participated in the New York Dada movement. Initially led by writer Hugo Ball in Zurich in 1916, Dada artists rejected rules of traditional art-making, often allowing chance to lead the creation process. Man Ray's early oil painting, The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows (1916), depicts an abstracted figure with ropes hovering over large expanses of colour. It also suggests Dada influences in that he incorporated a random pattern of paper scraps he had seen on the floor.
Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, connecting with the Dada and Surrealist movements there. The latter was led by writer André Breton, who penned the First Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924 and encouraged explorations of the mind and aesthetics of the irrational. Man Ray's subsequent works reflect Dada and Surrealist tendencies, such as the humorous and illogical combination of an iron and a row of tacks in Gift (1921) and the spinning discs in the film Anémic Cinéma (1926), the latter a collaboration with Duchamp and Marc Allégret. For L'Etoile de Mer (1928), now regarded as a classic Surrealist film, the artist shot through a sheet of glass, generating a hazy, dream-like quality.
In Paris, Man Ray cultivated a reputation as a photographer. One of his most well-known works, Le Violon d'Ingres (1924) shows his then-lover Kiki de Montparnasse nude—save for a turban—with her back to the camera. In a humorous gesture, Man Ray added the two black f-holes of a violin to accentuate the likeness between her body and the instrument. Celebrity sitters for the artist's portraits included Coco Chanel, Peggy Guggenheim, Pablo Picasso, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf, while he contributed photographs to fashion magazines such as Harper's Bazaar and French Vogue.
In 1929, Man Ray had an affair with photographer Lee Miller, who became an important collaborator during their four-year relationship. The two experimented with a solarisation technique that involved exposing a negative to light during development to create a silvery quality, as can be seen in the c. 1929 profile Solarised Portrait of Lee Miller and the 1931 reclining female nude portrait Primat de la matière sur la pensée. After Miller left him, Man Ray created a number of iconic works featuring body parts that recalled his ex-lover. The photograph, Glass Tears (1932), for example, depicts a close-up of a woman's eyes, with glass tears on her face. For this he used a mannequin that resembled Miller.
When Germany occupied Paris in 1940, Man Ray left for Los Angeles. There, he married dancer and model Juliet Browner, the couple returning to Paris in 1951. From then until the time of his death in 1976, he continued to focus on painting and photography, producing works such as Shakespearean Equation (1948): a series of paintings presenting mathematical models as actors in a Shakespearean play. The artist also published an autobiography, Self Portrait, in 1963.
Ocula | 2019
Niklas Svennung and Chantal Crousel reflect on the gallery's history and future projects.
This was to be Man Ray 's final studio; he lived here for the rest of his life, right up until his death, in 1976. Rue Férou was the most improvised and personal studio of the artist's life. He made everything in it—tables, benches, chairs, lamps, and bookcases—and built a darkroom, a bedroom, and a kitchen. He also arranged a...
Susan Laxton's book Surrealism at Play passionately traces how a particular art movement envisioned and articulated its own transformative potential. As Laxton illustrates, the Surrealists agitated for exploding art into life, which meant engaging with their day-to-day reality, and taking a critical stance toward it. A professor of art history at...
The line between art and jewellery has become increasingly blurred since the 20th century, when modernist artists like Meret Oppenheim, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst and Man Ray began exploring the possibilities of miniature metalwork. These exciting experiments with form challenged the art world's status quo, producing uniquely arresting jewels with...
In the autumn of 1940, Man Ray met a travelling tie salesman at a party in New York. The American artist had arrived back in the US earlier that summer, having spent nearly two decades in Paris. The salesman said he was planning a cross-country trip to Los Angeles; Man Ray decided to catch a lift.
Unfolding across all three floors of Hauser & Wirth New York, 22 nd Street, A Luta Continua is the first United States presentation of the Sylvio Perlstein Collection. Curated by David Rosenberg, the exhibition presents more than 360 works by some 250 artists. Among these are Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Diane Arbus, Hans Bellmer, André...