During a career that spanned more than fifty years, two continents, and work in many media, Man Ray (1890-1976) produced a large body of photographic images that continue to command our attention. This volume presents his early work in New York in the 1910s, selections from his sizeable Paris oeuvre in the 20s, 30s, and 50s, and photographs taken during his time in Hollywood in the 40s. Though in later years he expressed a desire to be remembered as a painter, Man Ray continued to work with photography throughout his life, pushing the boundaries of the medium with cameraless images, solarized portraits, and other innovations.
The Getty Museum's collection of three hundred works by Man Ray includes vintage prints from the 1910s through the 1960s. This volume presents more than fifty photographs, with commentary on each image by Katherine Ware, assistant curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The volume also includes an overview of his life and the edited transcript of a symposium on his career.
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Although many people think of Man Ray only as a photographer, his artistic work began with training in drawing. His approach to photography was always that of a painter, seeing photography as a way to create images with light as well as with the hand. He made two major innovations in technique, being the first to learn to expose images on photographic paper to capture their outline (rayographs) and to control the solarization process (where a partial reversal of values occurs in a photograph, accompanied by a characteristic edge) to create a consistent halo appearance. He also developed many ways to affect the surface appearance of the objects he photographed to make them more abstract. Deeply interested in Dadaism and Surrealism (although never formally joining either movement), Man Ray also captured witty titles and everyday objects in his photography to give additional depth to the message of his work. You will find many of his well-known portraits of famous artists in this volume. Before saying more about this outstanding volume, let me caution you (as the cover art surely must) that Man Ray often created images of nude women. If such things offend you, this volume will not be appropriate for you. The essays in this volume as reproduced in English, German, and French. I found them very helpful for providing technical background on the influences on and methods used in Man Ray's work. His approach was very Edison-like in its many unsuccessful experiments and accidents that led to important breakthroughs. A random mouse helped him learn how to do solarization. It is not surprising that Marcel Duchamp and he became instant friends. Their perspectives on art have many points in common. Born as Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia in 1890, he had moved to New York by age 7, and became exposed there to many important artistic influences. These included the Stieglitz gallery, the Armory Show in 1913, and leading artists in New York. He started as a photographer in 1914 just before meeting Marcel Duchamp. His primary years of productivity were spent in Paris, from which he was driven by the Nazi invasion in 1940. His return to the United States was less than a total joy, and he resided again in Paris after 1951. I believe that this volume is as much a delight for the mind as it is for the eye. Subtle differences in processing of similar images create enormously changed reactions in the viewer. You then move forward to study the reason for your changed perspective and find it in a small detail . . . like a slightly lifted eyebrow. Miror images in positive and negative reproduced side by side on facing pages create a similar reaction. Here are my favorites from these outstanding reproductions of Man Ray's best work: Integration of Shadows 1919; Untitled 1922; La violin d'Ingres 1924; Retour a la raison 1923; Meret Oppenheim 1932; 'Beauty in ultra violet' c. 1931; Erotique voilee [Meret Oppenheim] 1933; Le Priere c. 1930; Anatomia 1929; Nusch and Sonia 1935; U