art, history, photography

The Art of Man Ray


Man Ray, shortened from Emmanuel Radnitszky, was born in 1890 to Russian Jewish immigrants who had settled in Pennsylvania and made a living as tailors. As a young adult, he made money as an illustrator and commercial artist in New York City and became part of an inner group after befriending Marcel Duchamp, associated with the Dadaists and Surrealist movement in the 1920s and 30s.

In 1921, he went to Paris and during the next twenty years, developed into an influential avant-garde painter, fashion and portrait photographer, and short film maker. He fell in love with the city, and two key women–Kiki, his model and lover, and Lee Miller, his protegé and collaborator. I like his photography best because of his innovations to the medium such as solarization, that shadow behind the subject, and his contribution to Surrealism with the overlaying of images to create a new one.

Dadaism was an international movement born from the atrocities of World War I as a reaction to the chaos and destruction. Modernism and Surrealism in art and literature were the results. Modern art, Surrealistic art, embraced all that was not logical and nonsensical.  Is “Dada” “yes-yes” or is it a French rocking chair?

Man Ray’s affiliation with key people in the 1920s in Paris attracts me.

Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and Pablo Picasso are a few of them. Others throughout his life included Salvador Dali, Coco, and Ava Gardner.

If you want to explore this fascinating artist, I recommend the image archive on his official site:

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