Series Spotlight - Man Ray


Man Ray was born in 1890 and his real name was Emmanuel Radnitzky.  He was born in America but spent most of his life in Paris.

His most iconic image is of Kiki de Montparsasse`s Head next to an African ceremonial mask and the title of `Black and White` bears reference both to the black and white protest photography as well as skin colour. It was created at a time when African art and culture was much in vogue and the oval faces of the two look almost identical with their serene expressions. Man Ray contrasts her soft pale face with the shiny black mask and he simplifies the conflict of society into a problem of lighting and imagery and aesthetics, i.e. one oval links to another oval; one laying on its side contrasted with another that is erect; one lit from above and the other from the side.  Kiki was Man Ray`s lover.

Man Ray fled the War in France in 1940 and lived in Los Angeles until 1951 when he returned to Paris where he eventually died in his studio on November 18th 1976. He is quoted as saying `It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realise them`.

As a student, he was inspired by Alfred Stieglitz who was the husband of Georgia O`Keeffe and he remained a close friend of Marcel Duchamp for more than 50 years which is why his work was inspired originally by Cubism and Expressionism and later he moved to Dadaism which challenged the then perceptions of art and literature and advocated to spontaneity and thus Man Ray became a leading figure in the Dada movement as well as being influenced by Sigmund Freud and enjoyed working with Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Picasso and Andre Breton.

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