I would have to say that MAN RAY has been one of my favorite photographers for many years. And any chance I have to see some of his work I run to it! His life history is really wonderful and the influences he experienced quite fascinating. I hope you enjoy his work, as I am sure many of you have seen it before.
Man Ray is foremost known as a fashion photographer, but he actually had a successful career as an artist as well. His politely avant-garde photographs for Vogue and other magazines make up the brunt of his notoriety in within the mainstream world. Yet, in the overall chronology of his artistic career the commissioned
photography of his later career seems like a second (much less important) career.
Man Ray first came on to the radar when he began to associate with Marcel Duchamp in New York. A Jewish-American, he was born in Brooklyn in 1890. They met in 1915, when Duchamp made one of his many visits there from his stomping ground, Paris. The young artist’s first introduction to the art of the moment came in 1913 in the
form of the Armory show, at which the most subversive European artists including Duchamp and Francis Picabia (and less impressive American) exhibited their work. Two years, Man Ray became Duchamp’s right-hand man in launching the short-lived Dada movement in New York.
Duchamp’s influence became key in Man Ray’s development as an artist. Man Ray became Duchamp’s first (and only, until the Post-Modernist movement) follower when he produced his own readymade sculpture in the vein of Duchamp’s Fountain. In 1921 Man Ray came to Paris to officially become part of the European Dadaists.
He settled in Montparnasse, and was introduced to the Paris collective by Duchamp.
Perhaps Man Ray’s most enduring photograph, a visual analogy likening the shape of a woman’s backside to that of a violin.
Man Ray slowly made the transition from sculpture and painting to photography. It began to emerge as his true passion even in the 1910s, but Man Ray did not make it his sole pursuit until the late 1930s. In the transition he made several decidedly-Surrealist works.
Man Ray gained repertoire quickly, and was unceremoniously accepted by the Paris Dadaists/Surrealists, a group with exorbitant admission standards. His notoriety allowed him the privilege to photograph many of the key artists of the time, such as Marcel Duchamp and Andre Beton (the leader of the Surrealist movement).
In 1934 he had a liaison with Meret Oppenheim of the fur tea-cup fame, and photographed her nude in a classic artist-and-muse scenario.
From the time he began attracting attention as an artist until his death more than sixty years later, Man Ray allowed little of his early life or family background to be known to the public, even refusing to acknowledge that he ever had a name other than Man Ray.
Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in South Philadelphia,Pennsylvania USA in 1890, the eldest child of recent Russian Jewish immigrants. The family would eventually include another son and two daughters, the youngest born shortly after they settled in the Willaimsburg section of Brooklyn, New York in 1897. In early 1912,
the Radnitzky family changed their surname to Ray, a name selected by Man Ray’s brother, in reaction to the ethnic discrimination and anti-Semitism prevalent at that time. Emmanuel, who was called “Manny” as a nickname, changed his first name to Man at this time, and gradually began to use Man Ray as his combined single name.
Man Ray’s father was a garment factory worker who also ran a small tailoring business out of the family home, enlisting his children from an early age. Man Ray’s mother enjoyed making the family’s clothes from her own designs and inventing patchwork items from scraps of fabric.[ Despite Man Ray’s desire to disassociate himself from his family background,
this experience left an enduring mark on his art. Tailor’s dummies, flat irons, sewing machines, needles, pins, threads, swatches of fabric, and other items related to clothing and sewing appear at every stage of his work and in almost every medium. Art historians have also noted similarity in his collage and painting techniques to those used in making clothing.