Man Ray (1890-1976) By Donkin, Hazel
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky, Man Ray was one of the key innovators in modernist photography, film, and object making. He began his artistic career as a painter, and while his interest in the medium endured, it was photography that brought him financial and critical success. In New York, Man Ray was introduced to the avant-garde while visiting Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery and the Armory Show (1913). He met Marcel Duchamp in 1915 and, along with Picabia, the three men founded New York Dada. In 1921 Man Ray moved to Paris where he continued to produce experimental and provocative works, and was associated with the Paris dada group. Man Ray developed a lucrative portrait and fashion photography business, photographing cultural giants such as James Joyce and Pablo Picasso, earning him commissions from magazines such as Vogue. From 1924 photographic images became central in surrealist publications, and Man Ray’s intensely innovative approach was highly regarded by the founder of the group, André Breton. Man Ray developed a poetic that demonstrated the union of reality and imagination; he used found images, documentary images, film stills, and straight and experimental photography, including solarisation (a process he developed with Lee Miller). The Second World War forced him to leave Paris for the US, but he returned in 1951, where he resided until his death.