130 years ago, on August 27, Man Ray was born, the surrealist artist who changed modern photography.
“I finally got rid of the sticky paint and work directly with the light itself.” In 1922, this phrase was spoken by the surrealist artist Man Ray, and it defined all of his work.
The real name of the artist is Emmanuel Rudnitsky. He was born in Philadelphia to a Jewish immigrant family, and in 1912, due to anti-Semitic attacks, his family had to change their last name to Ray.
Man Ray loved art from his youth. But his consciousness at the age of 23 turned upside down his acquaintance with Marcel Duchamp. He was a revolutionary and provocateur, who at the beginning of the 20th century completely changed the idea of what art can be.
In 1913, at an exhibition in New York, the young Man Ray saw Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending the Stairs, an avant-garde canvas consisting of Cubist rays (by the way, ten years later Man Ray will make a portrait of Duchamp). In that year, Duchamp’s painting was rejected at several exhibitions, but soon it was recognized as a model of modern art.
Already in 1915, Man Ray held the first exhibition in New York, and in 1921 he moved to Paris. In the city of artists and bohemians, he was comfortable. In the city of artists and bohemians, he was comfortable. Coco Chanel, Pablo Picasso, and already mentioned Marcel Duchamp became his friends in Paris. They all visited his studio in Montparnasse, where Man Ray made their portraits.
And if he began his career as an artist, it was in Paris that he took up photography, which would later bring him worldwide fame. Man Ray took photographs of objects that were not much different from Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-mades” – ordinary objects that received the status of art in the early 20th century.
One of his most famous series – photographs “Man” and “Woman” – strikes with simplicity and genius at the same time. The main feature of Man Ray is that he was an incredibly creative and flexible person for his time. He made art out of everything around him. Man Ray, among other things, is one of the main inspirers of modern fashion photographers, who enjoy using his principles: solarization (printing from negatives) and shooting without a camera (radiography).
Man Ray’s looks were often rethought in fashion – and it still happens today. In 1999, Jean-Paul Gaultier paid tribute to the genius artist with the Classique fragrance campaign. It is a reference to Man Ray’s 1926 work Black and White. In the photo, we see the artist’s muse Kiki de Montparnasse, captured with an African mask in her hands. 70 years later, Gaultier removes the model for his campaign in the same position, only together with the masks – a bottle of perfume.