|Man Ray (August 27, 1890–November 18, 1976) was an American Dada and Surrealist artist. Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Man Ray showed evidence of being artistically and mechanically inclined from childhood. After graduating from Boys' High School in 1908, he was offered a scholarship to study architecture but chose to pursue a career as an artist instead. In 1911, the Radnitzky family changed their surname to Ray, a name selected by Man Ray's younger brother Sam, in reaction to the ethnic discrimination and anti-semitism prevalent at that time. Emmanuel, who was called "Manny" as a nickname, thereafter used the single name Man Ray.
In 1915, Man Ray had his first one-man show of paintings and drawings. His first proto-Dada object, an assemblage titled "Self-Portrait", was exhibited the following year. He produced his first significant photographs in 1918.
While living in New York City, with his friend Marcel Duchamp, he formed the American branch of the Dada movement, which began in Europe as a radical rejection of traditional art. He co-founded the group of modern artists called Others.
After a few unsuccessful experiments, and notably after the publication of a unique issue of New York Dada in 1920, Man Ray stated, "Dada cannot live in New York", and in 1921 he went to live and work in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, France during the era of great creativity. There he fell in love with famous French singer, Kiki (Alice Prin), often referred to as "Kiki de Montparnasse", who later became one of his favorite photographic models.
For the next 20 years in Montparnasse, Man Ray revolutionized the art of photography. Great artists of the day such as James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Jean Cocteau posed for his camera.
With Jean Arp, Max Ernst, André Masson, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso, Man Ray was represented in the first Surrealist exhibition at the Gallerie Pierre in Paris in 1925. In 1934, Surrealist artist Méret Oppenheim, known for her fur-covered tea cup, posed for Man Ray in what became a well-known series of photographs depicting Oppenheim nude, standing next to a printing press. Together with Surrealist photographer Lee Miller—his lover and photography assistant at the time—Man Ray invented the photographic technique of solarization. He also created a technique using photograms he called rayographs.
Man Ray also directed a number of influential avant-garde short films, such as Le Retour à la Raison (2 mins, 1923); Emak-Bakia (16 mins, 1926); L'Étoile de Mer (15 mins, 1928); and Les Mystéres du Château du Dé (20 mins, 1929).
Later in life, Man Ray returned to the United States, where he lived in Los Angeles, California for a few years. However, he called Montparnasse home and he returned there, where he died. He was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris. His epitaph reads: Unconcerned, but not indifferent.
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