Man Ray

American Photographer | Born: 1890 - Died: 1976

Born in Philadelphia, Emmanuel Radnitsky grew up in New Jersey and became a commercial artist in New York in the 1910s. He began to sign his name Man Ray in 1912, although his family did not change its surname to Ray until the 1920s. He initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his own works of art, which included paintings and mixed media. In 1921 he moved to Paris and set up a photography studio to support himself. There he began to make photograms, which he called "Rayographs." In the 1920s, he also began making moving pictures. Man Ray's four completed films--Return to Reason, Emak Bakia, Starfish, and Mystery of the Chateau--were all highly creative, non-narrative explorations of the possibilities of the medium. Shortly before World War II, Man Ray returned to the United States and settled in Los Angeles from 1940 until 1951. He was disappointed that he was recognized only for his photography in America and not for the filmmaking, painting, sculpture, and other media in which he worked. In 1951 Man Ray returned to Paris. He concentrated primarily on painting until his death in 1976.

Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself.

Source: Wikipedia


“I have finally freed myself from the sticky medium of paint, and am working directly with light itself.” So enthused Man Ray in 1922, shortly after his first experiments with camera-less photography. He remains well known for these images, commonly called photograms but which he dubbed "rayographs" in a punning combination of his own name and the word “photograph.”

Man Ray’s artistic beginnings came some years earlier, in the Dada movement. Shaped by the trauma of World War I and the emergence of a modern media culture—epitomized by advancements in communication technologies like radio and cinema—Dada artists shared a profound disillusionment with traditional modes of art making and often turned instead to experimentations with chance and spontaneity. In The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, Man Ray based the large, color-block composition on the random arrangement of scraps of colored paper scattered on the floor. The painting evinces a number of interests that the artist would carry into his photographic work: negative space and shadows; the partial surrender of compositional decisions to accident; and, in its precise, hard-edged application of unmodulated color, the removal of traces of the artist’s hand.

In 1922, six months after he arrived in Paris from New York, Man Ray made his first rayographs. To make them, he placed objects, materials, and sometimes parts of his own or a model's body onto a sheet of photosensitized paper and exposed them to light, creating negative images. This process was not new—camera-less photographic images had been produced since the 1830s—and his experimentation with it roughly coincided with similar trials by Lázló Moholy-Nagy. But in his photograms, Man Ray embraced the possibilities for irrational combinations and chance arrangements of objects, emphasizing the abstraction of images made in this way. He published a selection of these rayographs—including one centered around a comb, another containing a spiral of cut paper, and a third with an architect’s French curve template on its side—in a portfolio titled Champs délicieux in December 1922, with an introduction written by the Dada leader Tristan Tzara. In 1923, with his film Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason), he extended the rayograph technique to moving images.

Around the same time, Man Ray’s experiments with photography carried him to the center of the emergent Surrealist movement in Paris. Led by André Breton, Surrealism sought to reveal the uncanny coursing beneath familiar appearances in daily life. Man Ray proved well suited to this in works like Anatomies, in which, through framing and angled light, he transformed a woman’s neck into an unfamiliar, phallic form. He contributed photographs to the three major Surrealist journals throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and also constructed Surrealist objects like Gift, in which he altered a domestic tool (an iron) into an instrument of potential violence, and Indestructible Object (or Object to Be Destroyed), a metronome with a photograph of an eye affixed to its swinging arm, which was destroyed and remade several times.

Source: The Museum of Modern Art

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Man Ray Portraits
Author: Terence Pepper, Helen Trompeteler,
Publisher: Yale University Press
Year: 2013 - Pages: 224
The artist May Ray (1890–1976) initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his own works of art, but it became one of his preferred mediums. As a contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements in Paris during the 1920s, Man Ray was perfectly placed to make defining images of his avant-garde contemporaries, including Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, and Gertrude Stein. Man Ray also photographed his friends and lovers, among them Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), Lee Miller, who helped him discover the solarization printing process, and Ady Fidelin. Man Ray continued to take portrait photographs throughout his career, including little-known images from 1940s Hollywood, and of stars such as Ava Gardner and Catherine Deneuve taken during the 1950s and 1960s. An essential reference on Man Ray’s life and work, this book includes an introduction by Terence Pepper and essay by Marina Warner exploring the artist’s creativity and appetite for innovation and experimentation. Complete with first-hand testimonies from the artist’s sitters and over 200 beautifully reproduced images, this handsome volume provides a survey of the finest portraits from one of the most inventive photographic artists of the 20th century.
 
Man Ray
Author: Man Ray, Manfred Heiting
Publisher: Taschen America, LLC
Year: 2012 - Pages: 192
Man Ray (1890-1976) is indisputably one of the most original artists of the 20th century. His revolutionary nude studies, fashion work, and portraits opened a new chapter in the history of photography. Born under the name of Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, he began his artistic career in New York. In 1921 he moved to Paris, where he was enthusiastically welcomed into Dadaist and Surrealist circles. Man Ray experimented tirelessly with new photographic techniques, multiple exposure, rayography, and solarization being some of his most famous. Erotic, playful, and sometimes sinister, his compositions show unusual bodies and objects: strange, striking images that transform our perceptions of reality. This collection of famous, lesser known, and unknown works fully illustrates Man Ray's singular visionary power.
 
Man Ray
Author: Guido Comis, Marco Franciolli
Publisher: Skira
Year: 2011 - Pages: 330
An exciting monograph dedicated to an extraordinary figure and one of last century’s most famous and influential artists. Man Ray (1890-1976) was a photographer, painter, and creator of objects, experimental films, and images which were at times enigmatic. This catalog, which presents more than 200 works and compares and contrasts images with biographical details, is divided into three main sections: Man Ray’s formative years spent between New York and an artists’ colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey; the Paris period; and the period spent between Hollywood and Paris, France-the city he ultimately chose to adopt as his home. The publication describes the creation of some of his most famous pieces and the motifs-very often of females-that inspired the works. Man Ray’s life was marked by a succession of love affairs with famous and intriguing women, and this catalog dedicates several sections to this topic. The book also deals with the themes permeating Man Ray’s work throughout the years, such as his passion for chess, the relationship between reality and illusion, and experimental photography and film. Comparisons are also made with the works of some of the most important artists of the twentieth century, such as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, and Francis Picabia.
 
Photographs by Man Ray: 105 Works, 1920-1934
Author: Man Ray
Publisher: Dover Publications
Year: 1980 - Pages: 128
Rich selection of various techniques include over and under exposure, shooting through fabric, superimposing images, and zeroing in on tiny details. Photographs are divided into general subjects, female figures (mainly nudes); women's faces (including Gertrude Stein); celebrity portraits (Dali, Derain, Matisse, Picasso, and others); and rayographs, cameraless compositions created by resting objects on unexposed film.
 
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