HomePage Artists

(1890 – 1976), USA

Man Ray Biography

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.

Man Ray's work is in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; among other institutions.

Ocula | 2019

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Brocante: La Maison de Chineur Fondée à Cologne en 1940., Galerie Julian Sander (8 February–29 August 2020). Courtesy Galerie Julian Sander.

Man Ray Featured Artworks

View All (13)
Emak Bakia by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayEmak Bakia, 1926Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1927
9 x 12 inches
Bruce Silverstein Enquire about this work
Apple, Book, Knife, Legs by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayApple, Book, Knife, Legs, 1941Oil on canvas
51 x 41 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
The Prayer by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayThe Prayer, 1930Silver print
23 x 17 cm
Hauser & Wirth Enquire about this work
PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayPORTRAIT OF A WOMAN, c. 1940Gelatin silver print
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Cheim & Read Enquire about this work
Venus Restaurée by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayVenus Restaurée, 1935–1936Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1960s
10 x 7.5 inches
Bruce Silverstein Enquire about this work
Obstruction (Coat Hangers) by Man Ray contemporary artwork
Man RayObstruction (Coat Hangers), 1948Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1955–1972 (Original object created 1920)
5 x 7 inches
Bruce Silverstein Enquire about this work

Man Ray Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (8)
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Brocante: La Maison de Chineur Fondée à Cologne en 1940. at Galerie Julian Sander, Cologne
Open Now
8 February–29 August 2020 Group Exhibition Brocante: La Maison de Chineur Fondée à Cologne en 1940. Galerie Julian SanderCologne
Contemporary art exhibition, Man Ray, The Mysteries of Château du Dé at Gagosian, San Francisco
Closed
14 January–29 February 2020 Man Ray The Mysteries of Château du Dé GagosianSan Francisco
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Drawing the Line at Bruce Silverstein, New York
Closed
11 July–30 August 2019 Group Exhibition Drawing the Line Bruce SilversteinNew York

Man Ray Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian New York, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, London, Paris, Le Bourget, Geneva, Basel, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong

Man Ray In Related Press

MAN RAY Related Press MAN RAY 30 October 2019, Gagosian Quarterly

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...

Fade out copy.
Read More
How Surrealism’s Playful Aesthetic Was Deeply Political Related Press How Surrealism’s Playful Aesthetic Was Deeply Political 16 September 2019, Hyperallergic

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...

Fade out copy.
Read More
The Surrealist artists who created jewel-sized masterpieces Related Press The Surrealist artists who created jewel-sized masterpieces 27 August 2019, The Jewellery Editor

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...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Man Ray in LA: what happened when the pioneering artist hit Hollywood Related Press Man Ray in LA: what happened when the pioneering artist hit Hollywood 16 January 2018, The Guardian

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.

Fade out copy.
Read More

Man Ray In Video & Audio

A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection Related Video & Audio A Luta Continua. The Sylvio Perlstein Collection 8 May 2018, Hauser & Wirth

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...

Fade out copy.
View Video

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Man Ray are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
;
iCal
GoogleYahooOutlook