Avant-garde Pioneer: Man Ray

Emmanuel Radnitzky was born on this day in 1890. The son of Russian immigrants to the USA, his family soon moved from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, New York. In 1912 Emmanuel, Manny for short, followed his brother’s lead in changing the family-name to Ray. Manny also changed his first name to Man and combined the two new names into the single name: Man Ray.

Portrait of Man Ray, Paris

Portrait of Man Ray, Paris. Photographer: Carl Van Vechten. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-54231].

Attending the Ferrer School in New York, Man Ray from 1913 onwards began integrating the modernist styles prevalent in Europe into his works. He became life-long friends with Marcel Duchamp and joined the Dada movement. In true New Yorker-fashion he is quoted as saying : “Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is Dada, and will not tolerate a rival.”

In 1921 he moved to Paris where and settled in Montparnasse where he joined the city’s circle of artists and bohemians. During the period up to Second World War he became a sought-after photograper, creating short avant-garde films and Surrealist-style assemblages. In 1940, fleeing the impending German occupation of Paris, Man Ray returned to the USA and stayed there until 1951 when he returned to his beloved Paris. Man Ray died in 1976 and is buried in the Cemetery of Montparnasse, Paris.

In Europeana we have a collection of works by and about Man Ray, from which I’ve selected a few of my favourites and added previews below.


Source text for this blog post: Wikipedia


One thought on “Avant-garde Pioneer: Man Ray”

  1. MAN RAY — even the name makes me smile. I find his works fascinating; one has to read of the person to understand the meanings. He was a gifted fellow and I would have enjoyed meeting him.

    I also love that William Wegman named his magnificent, sleek dogs — who pose so grandly for his camera — after this outstanding artist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.