MAN RAY – A MAN OF THE RENAISSANCE IN THE ERA OF SURREALISM
Man Ray – one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century, made by the magazine Art News among the 25 most influential photographers of the century. An American of Jewish descent (his real name is Emanuel Radnitsky) became a true revolutionary of photography. He elevated it to the rank of art at a time when photos were considered only a craft. He is one of the greatest authors who worked in the genre of surrealism and Dadaism, a friend and associate of Marcel Duchamp, a film director, artist and, in the words of Michael Rush, a Renaissance man who lived in the 20th century.
Man Ray proved that photography, which was considered just a reflection of reality, can be true creativity. His bright Dadaist installations, experiments with technique and photosensitive paper were rebellious in the best sense of the word. Ray’s photographs are character, mood, sensuality, a bold artistic design and imaginary mysticism. His work was highly appreciated by his fellow artists, popular magazines Vogue, Vanity Fair, Time and models, among which were all European and American artistic bohemians.
Man Ray posed for Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Frida Kahlo and Elsa Schiaparelli. He shot many famous writers, among them – James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf.
The most famous photo of Coco Chanel – in a black dress, a hat and a string of pearls on his chest – he also made. Man Ray, while painting with a camera, created risky nudes with surrealist Meret Oppenheim, psychological portraits of movie stars and celebrities, experimental work at the intersection of painting and abstract art.
Man Ray refers to the representatives of the current “New Vision”. In this direction, which arose in the early twentieth century, photography is seen as a separate art form, and not as a continuation of painting. Unlike the pictorialists, the supporters of the current insisted on the originality of the photo and preferred the methods of constructivism, Bauhaus, rather than classical European modernism.
Man Ray, like other representatives of the direction, actively experimented with the perspective construction of the frame, an innovative photomontage, considered the subjects as abstractions and boldly violated the traditions of the genre. He constantly tried new techniques (for example, the physical effect of Sabatier) and invented solarization and rayography – the techniques with which the images were strange, refracted, acquired incomprehensible outlines and mystical halos.
Man Ray, along with Marcel Duchamp, developed a readymade course in which everyday objects (iron, nails, army blanket) were considered as objects of art. He experimented with Dadaism, was the only American in the Paris group, and even founded the New York “Dada Department”, although their activities were limited to the release of only one issue of the magazine.
The photographer never knew what the next experiment would lead to and mixed absurd, in terms of techniques, techniques and methods. He shot short films, was engaged in painting and did an incredible amount for the development of modern photography as “pure art”.
Man Ray was born in America. His parents emigrated to the state of Pennsylvania from the province, which at that time was part of the Russian Empire, and after decades became a part of Lithuania. After the birth of the boy in 1890, the family lived for seven more years in Philadelphia, and then moved to New York. There, the young man studied art, became fascinated with the works of Alfred Stiglitz and thanks to him he learned about European avant-garde. He took a pseudonym under which he is known today, and from 1918 he began to experiment seriously with photo technology.
Man Ray took the camera for the first time at the age of 24 to shoot his art objects, but quickly realized what her potential was. Back in 1913, having become acquainted with Marcel Duchamp, he began to create projects that could not be called either painting or photography. Having become friends with a creative ally, he made his portrait in an effective solarization technique invented by him – a reprint of negatives. Under the influence of avant-gardists, Ray moved to Paris and settled on the bohemian Montparnasse.
During the first “French period” in the works of the photographer met almost all the famous artists and writers of the era. Thanks to his talent as a portrait painter, he became popular, and filming with him meant that a person had achieved a certain position in society. By the end of the 20s, Man Ray had become one of the highest paid photographers in Europe, but did not stop experimenting.
Man Ray participated in the famous exhibition of the Surrealists in Paris in 1925, starred in films and shot him himself, introduced Eugene Atget into the circle of artists and received in his studio the main talents of the first half of the twentieth century.After living in France for about 20 years, he was forced to return to the United States before the Nazi occupation. There, Man Ray began the “Hollywood” stage of life and married an old friend, muse and chess partner Juliette Brauner. Quickly becoming a sought-after photographer, he exhibited in the best galleries in California, but he himself called the state a “beautiful prison” and dreamed of returning to Europe. It was possible to do this in 1951, and until his death the artist lived in his beloved Paris.
Man Ray actively collected objects of art associated with surrealism, and worked in his studio. In the mid-1960s, he released his autobiography and was accepted into the avant-garde society in memory of Alfred Jarry.
The artist, who died in 1976, was buried in Montparnasse, and the master’s wife created a foundation for him, owning today most of the copyright to his works.
Anna, the daughter of Man Ray, writes books about his father and his associates, the photographer’s exhibitions are held in galleries and photo centers around the world, and the public does not lose interest in his fantastic and unlike anything else.