Man Ray in Paris

Man Ray in Paris

by Erin C. Garcia, Man Ray
     
 

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Paris after World War I was teeming with Americans. Bon vivants seeking escape from prohibition mingled with artists and intellectuals, all pursuing their dreams in the City of Light. The American Modernist Man Ray (1890-1976) spent the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, where experimental expression was flourishing. While he considered himself to be primarily a painter and

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Overview

Paris after World War I was teeming with Americans. Bon vivants seeking escape from prohibition mingled with artists and intellectuals, all pursuing their dreams in the City of Light. The American Modernist Man Ray (1890-1976) spent the 1920s and 1930s in Paris, where experimental expression was flourishing. While he considered himself to be primarily a painter and also worked in film, sculpture, and collage, his best-known and most innovative medium was photography.

Man Ray arrived in Paris in 1921 full of creative energy. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s “readymades”—mundane objects that became works of art in the gallery context—Man Ray spontaneously created an assemblage during a party by combining carpet tacks and an iron, which he then photographed. Soon afterward, he began to experiment with cameraless photography and devised his Rayographs—abstract images produced by placing objects directly on photographic paper and exposing it to light.

He eventually became an influential figure in the city’s avant-garde circles and began to make striking portraits of many of its luminaries, including Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, Joan Miró, and Gertrude Stein. His work inspired other photographers and encouraged painters, including the Surrealists René Magritte and Salvador Dalí, to experiment with the medium.

Through its fascinating text and numerous photographs, this volume vividly demonstrates why Man Ray is still considered to be one of the most inventive and exciting artists of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Born Emanuel Radnitzky, the American photographer Ray (1890–1976) was both a leading figure of the Dada and Surrealist movements as well as a commercial success. This volume includes many of his photographs of the interwar period, including the famous one of Marcel Duchamp in drag as his female alter ego, "Rrose Sélevy" (a French pun for "Eros is life"). Particularly striking are the half-dozen portraits, including one of James Joyce in his late 30s and of an anxious (or is it pensive?) Sinclair Lewis at around the same age. The collection pays homage to both the whimsical, imaginative, unsettling energies of Ray's work, as well as his formal interests in geometry, symmetry, and contrasts (see his Untitled (Ostrich Egg with Stamp). Garcia (Photography as Fiction), former assistant curator of photography at the Getty, also highlights Ray's photographic innovations, including the "Rayograph" (placing objects on photographic paper and exposing the paper to light), but her analyses in general are a bit skimpy. For example, she notes the influence of Duchamp and photographer Alfred Stieglitz, but never specifies the nature of that influence, nor does she sufficiently explain such technical terms as the "Ciné-Sketch" or the "tri-color carbo process." Still, her brief introduction to Ray's Paris years, and his photographs themselves, will interest devotees of modernism and of 20th-century photography—and persuade them to read more deeply elsewhere. (May)
From the Publisher
“An attractive package for Man Ray enthusiasts, photography buffs, and Francophiles.”—Library Journal

“A beautifully produced collection of the artist’s experiments in [photography].”—La Lettre de la Photographie

“The collection pays homage to both the whimsical, imaginative, unsettling energies of Ray’s work, as well as his formal interests in geometry, symmetry, and contrasts.”—Publishers Weekly

American Alliance of Museums Design Competition 2012, First Prize

Library Journal
Former Getty Museum assistant curator Garcia (Photography as Fiction) provides a broad overview of Man Ray's work during his formative years in Paris, during which he made his reputation and became the darling of the Dada set, who later morphed into surrealists. A roughly ten-page introduction provides a thumbnail biography of Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitsky in Philadelphia) during his two decades in Paris from 1921 until 1940, when, thanks to the Nazis, it seemed wiser to return to America. He immigrated back to Paris in 1951, remaining until his 1976 death (he's buried there). The images here, taken between 1920 and 1939, offer a representative mix of his photographic work, including straight portraits of other artists, e.g., Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein, and James Joyce; his experiments with rayographs (objects placed on photographic paper and exposed to light); artsy photos of women; solarization (exposing partially developed film to light); color experiments; and still lifes. VERDICT Although these images have appeared numerous times before, having the landmark Paris materials isolated in a neat, affordable volume makes this an attractive package for Man Ray enthusiasts, photography buffs, and Francophiles.—Mike Rogers, Library Journal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781606060605
Publisher:
Getty Publications
Publication date:
05/31/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.70(d)

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