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August 27: Man Ray

August 27, 2013

man-ray-photography-as-art-ingres-violinMan Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky), an artist, sculptor, photographer, and filmmaker who, uniquely among American artists, made significant contributions to the Dada and Surrealist movements, was born in Philadelphia on this date in 1890. He became a competent artist in high school and worked after graduation as a commercial artist and technical illustrator. He had his first solo show of paintings and drawings in 1915, around the time that he befriended Marcel Duchamp and began constructing “readymades,” everyday objects that were altered and decontextualized. Ray moved to Paris in 1921 and lived there for most of the rest of his life, returning to the U.S. for a decade only because of the Nazi invasion of France. As a photographer, Man Ray created portraits of James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, Gertrude Stein, and other major artists, and was represented by several works in the first Surrealist exhibition in 1925. He was also well known for his “Rayographs,” photographs created without a camera, by placing objects on light-sensitive paper. Ray died in Paris in 1976. ARTNews has named him one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century. To see his 1928 film, Etoile de Mer (Starfish), look below.

“Don’t put my name on it. These are simply documents I make.” —Man Ray