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Alfred Eisenstaedt
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Annie Leibovitz

Ansel Adams
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Henri Cartier-Bresson
Jerry Uelsmann
Joe Rosenthal
Louis Daguerre
Man Ray
Margaret Bourke-White
Mary Ellen Mark
Robert Capa
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Steve McCurry


Man Ray

The American-born modern artist Man Ray pursued his love of art in Paris, where he was instrumental in the Surrealist and Dadaists movements. While he is famous for his fashion photography, as well as his portraits, he called himself a painter.

Man Ray
Photographer Man Ray

Man Ray dabbled in all areas of art from sculpture and collage to performance art and painting and he was given the title as one the top significant artists of the 20th century by ARTnews magazine.

While his work and his persona gathered much attention and scrutiny, Many Ray preferred to keep the details of his early life private.

Born 1890 né Emmanuel Radnitzky in Pennsylvania, his Russian-Jewish parents, along with Man Ray and his brother and two sisters, eventually lived in Brooklyn, New York. It was his parents who changed their last name to Ray as a defense against anti-Semitism. Emmanuel Ray shortened his first name to Man, and eventually used his first and last name as one.

His father was a tailor who also worked in a garment factory and his mother made clothes for the family, which influenced the artist later in his professional life. The tools of his parents trade fabric, needles, sewing machines, etc. all appeared at one time or another in his mixed media work.

While Man Ray learned the techniques of basic art he also examined the works the early European painters, known as the Old Masters. After he finished high school, he received a scholarship to pursue architecture but decided he wanted to be an artist instead. While his parents preferred a more stable career for him, they did support his decision and provided a small room that he could use as a studio.

Man Ray Photograph

While he attempted to paint in the style of the Old Masters, he admired the work of modernists such as Alfred Stieglitz and those of the Ashcan School. His enrollment at the Ferrer School in 1912 is where he came into his own as an artist.

The work of artist Marcel Duchamp influenced Man Ray's paintings, such as the 1916 "The Roper Dancer Accompanies Herself with Shadows," in which the figures appeared to have movement.

His first solo exhibition took place in 1915 and the next year "Self Portrait," a Dadaist assemblage was shown at the Daniel Gallery. The object contained a doorbell that did not work, frustrating those who attended the exhibition in 1916. Man Ray soon gave up traditional painting and began assembling portraits using photography and mechanical techniques.

In an effort to push the bounds of photography and merge it into art, Man Ray used various photographic techniques such as solarization, artistic cropping of photos, and over-development in order to create a feel of surrealism. Man Ray also admired the female form and many of his photographs pushed the bounds of taste at the time. He also created photograms which he renamed Rayogrammes which involved laying objects on a piece of photo paper and exposing them to light.

Even though he considered himself a painter, Man Ray never made much money from this form of artwork. It was his photography for Vanity Fair, Vogue and Bazaar that paid his bills and got him international acclaim.

While still in New York, Man Ray married Belgian poet Adon Lacroix in 1914. The marriage did not last long, with the couple separating five years later and divorcing in 1937.

Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921 and soon became entranced with artists' model Kiki de Montparnasse. They stayed together for almost a decade and some of Man Ray's most famous photographs and his experimental films featured Montparnasse.

Man Ray Photo
His photography as art developed greatly while in France, and many important people posed for portraits by Man Ray, including Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Antonin Artaud.

His surrealistic art was first represented in 1925 at the Galerie Pierre. Man Ray returned briefly to the United States during World War II, and lived in Los Angeles during the 1940s. He married Juliet Browner, a dancer and model, in 1946. Man Ray moved back to Montparnasse with his wife in the early 1950s and died November 18, 1976 in Paris from a lung infection.


The Rumor Mill

The rumor mill has stated that in addition to the truthful biography already presented there is a not so truthful tale stating that Man Ray once rode a manta ray in a SeaWorld underwater rodeo. What you do with this rumor is up to you.


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