"There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it." - Many Ray, 1948.
Man Ray. (1890 – 1976). Or maybe Emmanuel Radnitzky. 'Simply a brilliant modernist', says Wikipedia, and I say, yes, that little, is true.
I always think of him as a jack of all Dada/Surrealist trades, yet oddly a master of none. He was a hugely interesting photographer, painter, drawer, thinker, film maker, sculptor, experimenter, inventor...yet not consistently outstanding in any one of these areas.
But out from his Ray brain popped a considerable river of ideas, always interesting - even the many half baked ones - and he left us with a handful of which, all these years later, are still, like an equation, astonishingly elegant, minimal & modernist.
Man Ray too, had quite possibly the best pseudonym of any artist. A name that is a vivid work of art. Like all his best ideas, it's creatively astute, feeding the imagination with meaning & non-meaning. And again elegant, minimal & modernist. A simple 2 x 3 letters, with a vague symmetry.
Last summer, in Paris, in Montparnasse cemetery, I spent an hour in the hot sun, trying to find his grave - which I never did. I later found out it had been taken away to be cleaned. A Dadaist act from beyond the grave.
In Paris, I finally also had the chance to see many original prints at the Centre Pompidou, except they were sadly not originals, but modern prints. I like to imagine that it's perhaps because Mr Ray, so engrossed in making prints, never bothered to fix them properly against light.
The following photos, below, are all from Man Ray - The Photographic Image: edited by Janus (The English 1980 version of the Italian 'Man Ray: I'Immagine Fotografica - 1977').
This book is the book for Man Ray's 1976 Venice Biennale exhibition. All the reproductions were supervised by Man Ray, from negatives, books and photographs. They have raw imperfect grainy quality (maybe because of his involvement?) that make reproductions in newer books, seem slightly clinical and cold.
|Andre Breton (1932)|
|Dora Maar (1936)|
|Photograph with Glass Balls (1929)|
|Lee Miller (1930)|
|Marcel Duchamp (1922)|
|Mathematical Object (1926)|
|Tristan Tzara (1921)|
|The Net (1931)|
Man Ray Trust
Man Ray on Wikipedia
Books about Man Ray (on Amazon)
Text © 2011 Gary Andrew Clarke
Photographs © Man Ray