Man Ray (Philadelphia, 1890 – Paris, 1976).
He was a pioneering American artist who left an indelible mark on the world of modern art. Born as Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, he adopted the pseudonym “Man Ray” to express his unique artistic vision. Radnitzky grew up in New York, where he studied architecture, engineering, and art and became a painter. In 1915 Man Ray met the French artist Marcel Duchamp, and together they collaborated on many inventions and formed the New York group of Dada artists. Like Duchamp, Man Ray began to produce ready-made, commercially manufactured objects that he designated as works of art.
Renowned as a key figure in the Dada and Surrealist movements, his avant-garde photography challenged traditional norms and explored the realms of abstraction and experimentation. Through his research in the photographic medium, Man Ray pioneered the technique of cameraless photography, which he called rayograph. He made them by placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper, which he exposed to light and developed. He experimented with different techniques in photography, such as solarization, which renders part of a photographic image negative and part positive by exposing a print or negative to a flash of light during development.
A master of multiple mediums, he excelled in painting, sculpture, and filmmaking, leaving an enduring legacy that inspires artists worldwide. Man Ray also pursued fashion and portrait photography and made a virtually complete photographic record of the celebrities of Parisian cultural life during the 1920s and ’30s. His photographs were published in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vu, and Vogue. In 1940 Man Ray escaped the German occupation of Paris by moving to Los Angeles. Returning to Paris in 1946, he continued to paint and experiment until his death.