Man Ray

Born 1890, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died 1976, Paris, France

Man Ray was born in Philadelphia, as Emmanuel Radnitsky, but grew up in New Jersey and New York in the 1910s. He was part of the New York Dada—a radical anti-art movement that gained traction in New York, Paris, and Berlin. In 1920, alongside Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray formed the Societé Anonyme, an art organization espousing modernist ideals.

Man Ray’s passion for photography developed in the 1920s. In 1921, he relocated to Paris where he established a studio specifically for photography. It was there that he developed his first photograms, which he called rayographs. They were striking, ethereal images created by placing an object directly on a piece of photographic paper and exposing them to light to capture their impression.

Working in Paris, Man Ray became involved with the Surrealist movement and exhibited at the first Parisian Surrealist show in 1925. He continued to make photographs and experimented with avant-garde film, often collaborating with Marcel Duchamp and Fernand Leger.

In 1940, Man Ray returned to the United States and lived in Los Angeles until his return to Paris in 1951. There, he concentrated primarily on painting until his death in 1976. Man Ray’s work can be found in nearly every major museum in the United States and abroad, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim Museum, the Pompidou Center, Paris, the Metropolitan Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Gallery, London and the Whitney Museum, among many others.