Photographer Study: Man Ray
My next photographer study pays tribute to an artist whose photography reminds me of a Picasso or Dali painting, and whose career was just as influential to the world of art: Man Ray
Man Ray is known for his significant contribution to Dada and Surrealist movements, having been described as a modernist. The sophisticated artist also played a strong role in encouraging an art revolution.
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky, Man Ray’s nickname was a combination of “Manny” (as his family used to call him) and the desire to overcome ethnic discrimination and anti-Semitism reactions of that time by changing his surname. He became known as Man Ray and soon became a brand.
Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Brooklyn, he moved to Paris and became a part of the cultural elite. Although he is most known for his avant-garde photography, Man Ray considered himself a painter more that anything else. He also explored many other art forms – painting, poetry, filmmaking, philosophy and essay writing. He referred to his photograms as “rayographs” after himself. He spent most of his career fighting against the formal constraints of the visual arts. Ray’s life, as well as his art, can be described as provocative, daring and engaging. Art critics consider him a leader of American modernism.
“There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.” – Man Ray, 1948, essay “To Be Continued, Unnoticed”
Despite his reputation today, his works outside of his fashion and portrait photography, were hardly appreciated during his lifetime. However, in the following decades after his death, his work became more celebrated. In 1999, ARTnews magazine placed him in the top of 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, claiming his work as “performance and conceptual art” and saying that he “offered all artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its pursuit of pleasure and liberty, unlocked every door”.
Man Ray’s last years of life were spent in Los Angeles, but before he died he returned to France. He was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. His epitaph reads:
“Unconcerned, but not indifferent”