Man Ray (American, 1890–1976), a prominent member of the French Surrealist circle, is celebrated for pioneering Modernist painting, film, and photography. Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, Man Ray moved to Brooklyn, New York, with his family as a child, frequently visiting the city’s art museums in his youth. After graduating high school in 1908, he befriended artists such as Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864–1946), Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887–1968), and Robert Henri (American, 1865–1929), and worked alongside them to establish New York Dada during World War I. Man Ray took up photography in 1915, and co-founded the Societé Anonyme in 1921 with Duchamp and Katherine Dreier (American, 1877–1952); it was seen as the first important collection of Modern Art in the United States. That same year, Man Ray moved to Paris, where he would reside as a member of the French Surrealist group until the beginning of World War II.

He began working frequently with collage, assemblage, found objects, and experimental photography, creating “camera-less” photographic works he called Rayographs by placing objects on light-sensitive paper. Using solarization and other photographic techniques involving the manipulation of light and the camera’s mechanical processes, Man Ray further pushed the boundaries of avant-garde photography. He also created Surrealist films, and worked as a skilled portrait photographer; his subjects included Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and many other leading figures of the early 20th century. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Man Ray’s work was well received in France, and he was regarded as a major figure in the international art world. He returned to the United States in 1940 to escape war in Europe, and settled in Los Angeles; always uncomfortable with his American identity, he returned to France in 1951. He spent the next few decades creating works, ranging from painting and drawing to assemblage and photography, exhibiting around the world before his death in Paris, in 1976. Today, he is revered as one of the most important American Modernist artists, and as a groundbreaking practitioner of photography. His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.

Timeline

1890
Born Emmanuel Radnitsky in Philidelphia, PA
1897
His family moved to Brooklyn, NY
1910–1911
Began going to Ferrer Center, New York, NY
1912
Moved to Ridgefield, NJ
1915–1916
Participated in the Dada movement, New York, NY
1913–1919
Worked part-time as draughtsman for publisher of maps and atlases
1925
Fashion photographs published in French and American editions of Vogue
1921–1940
Lived and worked in Paris, France
1976
Died in Paris, France

Exhibitions

2013
Man Ray Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, England
2011
Die unbekannte Sammlung: Klassiker der Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany
2009–2010
Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention, Jewish Museum, New York, NY (solo)
Man Ray: African Art through the Modernist Lens, Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville,VA; University of British Columbia,Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada (solo)
2008
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia: The Moment Art Changed Forever, Tate Modern, London, UK
2006
Man Ray in the Age of Electricity, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY (solo)
Dada, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
2004
Man Ray, from the collection of Ray’s assistant Lucien Triellard, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (solo)
2003
Surrealist Muse: Lee Miller, Roland Penrose, and Man Ray, Getty Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Conversion to Modernism: The Early Works of Man Ray, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, GA; Montclair Art Museum, NJ (solo)
Man Ray's Paris Portraits: 1921-39, Carosso Fine Art, New York, NY (solo)
The Omnipotent Dream: Man Ray, Confluences and Influences, The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
2002
Man Ray: Voyeur/Voyant, Hillwood Art Museum, NY (solo)
Surrealism: Desire Unbound, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Modernist Photographs by Herbert Bayer and Man Ray, Denver Museum of Art, Denver, CO
2000
A Practical Dreamer: The Photographs of Man Ray, 100 prints from 1916-1950s, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (solo)
1998–1999
Man Ray: Photography and Its Double, retrospective, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; International Center of Photography, New York, NY (solo)
A Practical Dreamer: The Photographs of Man Ray, J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
Comprehensive American Surrealism Exhibition, The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersberg, FL
1971
Retrospective of 225 works from 1912-1971, Boymans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Galleria Schwarz, Milan, Italy (solo)
1967
Salute to Man Ray, American Center, Paris, France (solo)
1948
Bill Copley Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA (solo)
1947
Dreams that Money Can Buy, film collaborated with Ernst, Duchamp, Calder, Milhaud, Léger, Venice Film Festival, Venice, Italy
1921
Galerie des Six, Paris, France
1920
Painting by American Modernists, Museum of History, Science and Art, Los Angeles, CA
1919
Daniel Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1917
Daniel Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1915
Daniel Gallery, New York, NY (solo)

Public Collections

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TC
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC
Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Tate Gallery, London, England
Reina Sofía National Museum, Madrid, Spain
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
International Center of Photography, New York, NY
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

Literature

2003
Castant, Alexandre. Noire et blanche de Man Ray. New York: Scala, 2003
2002
L'Ecotais de, Emmanuelle. Man Ray rayographies. Paris, France: Léo Scheer, 2002
2001
Martin, Jean-Hubert. Man Ray Photographs. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001
Lottman, Herbert. Man Ray à Montparnasse. Paris, France: Hachette, 2001
Heiting, Manfred. ManRay. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 2001
2000
Baldwin, Neil. Man Ray: American Artist. New York: Da Capo Press Inc, 2000
1998
L'Ecotais de, Emmanuelle. Man Ray, la photographie à l'envers. Paris, France: Editions du Centre Pompidou, 1998