Modern and Contemporary Art /01 June 2003


Man Ray

untitled (Abstraction)
12½ w × 17½ h in (32 × 44 cm)

Signed 'Man Ray' lower right and numbered in pencil lower margin. Number 62 from the edition of 180. Framed.

provenance: Coen and Peroni, Pescara, Italy

estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $1,755

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Man Ray 1890–1976

"I would photograph an idea rather than an object, a dream rather than an idea."

Man Ray was a revolutionary artist, bringing avant-garde European artistic ideals to America through photography, film and sculpture. He was born in 1890 to Russian-Jewish immigrants; his father was a tailor and his mother, a seamstress and he was raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Shunning a traditional education in favor of a bohemian lifestyle, Man Ray didn’t receive formal artistic training until 1912, when he joined the Ferrer School, which was founded by a Spanish anarchist upon libertarian and socialist ideals.  That same year, Man Ray met Alfred Stieglitz, who introduced him to photography and in 1915, he met Marcel Duchamp, who exposed him to Surrealism and Dada and would become a lifelong friend and collaborator. In an effort to bring the radical artistic notions of Europe to America, Man Ray, Duchamp and art dealer Katherine Dreier founded Société Anonyme, Inc. in 1920, the first museum of modern art in America, which actively exhibited until 1928. Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921, where he lived until 1939, when he fled to Los Angeles to escape the war. Living in Paris brought about his mature and most well-known works, including his surrealist photography and chance-driven, absurdist “Rayographs.” Man Ray was also renowned for his fashion photography for Vogue and Vanity Fair, bringing an experimental, artistic boldness to editorial photography. He returned to Paris in 1951 and remained in his adopted city until his death in 1975. His work, lyrical, process-oriented and exploratory, continues to influence the multi-disciplinary and conceptually-focused contemporary arts landscape that he helped pioneer.  

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