Man Ray

United States of America 1890 – France 1976

Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky on 27 August 1890 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1897 his family moved to New York, where, in 1908, Man Ray studied architecture, engineering and art at the National Academy of Design. In 1911 his interest shifted exclusively to art and he attended life classes at the Ferrer Center in New York. From 1913 he painted in Ridgefield, New Jersey, returning to New York in 1915 and showing his Fauve-inspired work in a solo exhibition at the Daniel Gallery. That year he met Marcel Duchamp and took up photography. In 1916 he showed his new works, now very abstract, in the Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters in New York and, in 1917, together with Duchamp, Francis Picabia and Walter Arensburg, produced the Dada publications The Blind Man and Rongwrong, and in 1921 published a single issue of New York Dada.

Man Ray began painting with a spray gun in 1918, producing his 'aerograph' series. In 1920 he and Duchamp were involved in establishing the Société Anonyme Inc. (under the patronage of Katherine S. Dreier), the first American museum devoted exclusively to modern art. Man Ray moved to Paris soon afterwards where he was welcomed by the Dada circle and became friendly with Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Max Ernst and Tristan Tzara among others. He participated in most Dada events and also showed in the first exhibition of the Surrealists at Galerie Pierre in 1925. During this he was active as a photographer, making his first 'rayograph' in 1922, and as an experimental film-maker. His work was included in all major Surrealist exhibitions in Paris, as well as the International Surrealist Exhibition in London, and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1936. With the fall of Paris in 1940, Man Ray returned to the United States. He was back in Paris in 1951, where he continued to work, exhibiting regularly. Man Ray died in Paris on 18 November 1976.

See more works by this artist in the NGA collection

Man Ray Pain peint [Blue bread: favourite food for bluebirds] 1958 © Man Ray. ARS/Copyright Agency Purchased 1977 Learn more