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Man Ray

Biographies
Man Ray

*  1890 Philadelphia/Pennsylvania
† 1976 Paris


Man Ray, whose real name was Emanuel Rudnitzky, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 27 August. His parents were Russian Jews. At the age of sixteen he was awarded a grant to study architecture but he dropped out not long afterwards after deciding to become a painter. Man Ray moved in avant-garde circles in New York, notably the Stieglitz Gallery. Man Ray inaugurated his career as an artist with Cubist paintings but in 1917 he joined Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia in founding the New York Dada movement. Influenced by Duchamp's ready-mades, which Man Ray also photographed, Man Ray himself did a number of Dada objects. In 1921 Man Ray settled in Paris, where he developed the photographic technique of the rayograph, which entailed making black-and-white images without a camera on photo-sensitive paper. Distinguished by diffuse contours, they would play a major role in stimulating the Surrealist imagination. In 1925 Man Ray joined the Surrealist movement, became its 'official' photographer and began to paint again. During the years that followed, Man Ray devoted himself to film and realised several cinema projects but in 1940 he fled the German occupation and returned to the US, where he remained in Hollywood until he could return to Paris in 1951. From then on Man Ray devoted himself primarily to painting and drawing. During his lifetime his work was honoured by numerous important exhibitions. In 1966 Man Ray participated in a large-scale Dada retrospective shown in Paris, Zurich and Milan. A comprehensive retrospective, shown in Philadelphia, Paris and Louisiana (Denmark) was devoted to Man Ray's work. Two years later his work was shown with that of Duchamp and Picabia at the exhibition entitled 'New York Dada', organised jointly by the Städtische Galerie Munich and the Kunsthalle Tübingen. The year Man Ray died a large exhibition of his photographs was mounted at the Venice Biennale. Man Ray died at the age of eighty-six in Paris on 18 November 1976.