Legendary photographer, painter, poet, and maker of objects and films, Man Ray was one of the most versatile and inventive artists of this century. He was a pioneer in 20th century avant-garde art and photography and a leading figure in the Dada and Surrealist art movements in both America and in later on in Paris where he became the group’s unofficial photographer. Among the many models from this period were Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Gertude Stein, James Joyce, and the famous performer, Kiki of Montparnasse. Man Ray’s photographs of Kiki often use the outline of her body to represent other objects. His interest in minimalism and abstraction carried over to Man Ray’s experiments with what he termed “rayographs,” a photographic process that creates an image without the camera. Combining chance and absurdity, these images lyrically and impressionistically represented objects such as ropes, light bulbs, and thumbtacks.
Emmanuel Radnitzky, also known as Man Ray, was born in 1890 in Philadelphia. Just a few years later, his family moved to Brooklyn, NY. In 1915 he met the French artist Marcel Duchamp, and together they formed the New York group of Dada artists. Although growing up in America, he spent the greater portion of his life and career in Paris. There, he continued to be a part of the artistic avant garde and associated with the Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles of artists and writers. Also a successful portrait and fashion photographer, Man Ray received commissions for commercial work featured in important publications such as Vogue, Bazaar, and Vanity Fair. In his final years, Man Ray continued to exhibit his art, with shows in New York, London, Paris and other cities in the years before his death in 1976 at 86 years old.
He had numerous exhibitions worldwide including the International Center of Photography, New York; National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Venice Photography Biennale; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Biblioteque Nationale de Paris; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Fine Art Museum of San Francisco; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Serpentine Gallery in London.
His innovative works can be found on display in museums around the world such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Guggenheim museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
There are many books about his work including Man Ray: Photography and its Double (1998), Man Ray Photographs (1987), Photographs by Man Ray: 105 Works, 1920 -1934 (1980), Man Ray Women (2006), Man Ray’s Montparnasse (2004), Conversion to Modernism: The Early Works of Man Ray (2003), and Man Ray : In Fashion (1991).