34 Years Today Since Man Ray Passed Away
Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Pennsylvania, USA, the one who called himself Man Ray spent most of his career in Paris, France. The nickname was a combination between “Manny” (as family used to call him) and the desire to overcome ethnic discrimination and anti-semitism reactions of that time, by changing his surname, as well. The result was a new name that he gradually started using, and that soon became a brand.
Although his most renowned work in the art world is in the area of avant-garde photography Man Ray considered himself a painter, more that anything else. Master of experimental and fashion photography, the artist explored many other art forms, having embraced painting, poetry, filmmaking, philosophy and essay writing. The art critics consider him a leader of American modernism.
Part of the cultural elite living in France, Man Ray used to refer to his photograms as “rayographs”, after himself. He spent most of his career fighting against the formal constraints of the visual arts. Ray’s life, as well as his art, can be described as provocative, daring and engaging.
Despite his reputation today – which is one of a renowned complete artist – Man Ray’s works, other that fashion and portrait photography, were hardly appreciated during his lifetime, mostly in the United States, his native country. However, in the following decades after his death, his work became more celebrated.
In 1999, ARTnews magazine placed him in the top of 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, claiming his work as “performance and conceptual art” and saying that he “offered all artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its pursuit of pleasure and liberty, unlocked every door”.
Man Ray’s last years of life were spent in Los Angeles, California, but before his end he returned to France. He was burried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. His epitaph reads: “Unconcerned, but not indifferent”.
“There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.” – Man Ray, 1948, essay “To Be Continued, Unnoticed”11