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Thursday, 18 March 2010

U.S. Artists and the Surrealist Movement

Slide 2

By Alexandra Jopp 

Paris was in a state of magical metamorphosis between the World Wars


Ilse Bing, Eiffel Tower, 1934. Gelatin silver print 

Ilse Bing, Danseuse-Cancan, Moulin Rouge, Paris, 1931.Gelatin silver print

In America Surrealism did not develop logically out of Dada, as it did in Europe, where the two movements shared many of the same adherents.

By 1925, the artists, writers, participated in the American
 manifestation of Dada had largely dispersed, either heading off 
 to seek refuge in California (Walter and Louise Arensberg), or 
 seeking a more receptive audience for their work by moving to 
Europe (Man Ray.)

In 1920, Man Ray stated, "Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival. ", and in 1921 he went to live and work in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris, France during the era of great creativity.

 Five Way Portrait of Marcel Duchamp by an unknown photographer and Rrose Sélavy by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray

 Man Ray (1890–1976) was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter above all. He was also a renowned fashion and portrait photographer.

Man Ray in his Paris studio, 1923 

Man Ray played a key role in the Dada and Surrealist movements in Paris in the 1920's and 1930's.


Man Ray turned to the camera as the fastest way to do a portrait.
  "If it is a portrait that interests me, a face, or a nude, I will use my camera," he remarked. "It is quicker than making a drawing or a painting . . . . to express what 1 feel, I use the medium best suited to express that idea, which is also always the most economical one."      
  Slide 2
Man Ray produced canvases that he described in his autobiography as
   “somewhat cubist in form, and very colorful.”

 Man Ray. Departure of Summer, 1914 

 Man Ray. Invention, 1916

 Man Ray. Impossibilité dancer/danger. 1920

                                                 Man Ray. Trompe l'oeuf. 1963-64
Man Ray invented the photographic technique of solarization. He also created a technique using photograms he called rayographs. 
 Drinking glass, light bulb, pipe and circular metal object .
Man Ray. Les Champs Delicieux.  1922.

Man Ray's model and mistress: Kiki de Montparnasse.  Kiki de Montparnasse, 1927

Kiki of Montparnasse inspired countless artists in 1920s Paris. Her life was wild, exciting and debauched, but, as Anna Davis reports, behind the painted mask was a troubled soul.
Noire et Blanche, by Man Ray, 1926.
Gelatin silver print. Private Collection.

Kiki de Montparnasse by Man Ray, 1922.

Le Violon d'Ingres is a complex photograph that demonstrates Man Ray's long-standing admiration for Ingres, as well as his desire to mock tradition.

Le Violon d’Ingres by Man Ray.1924 Vintage gelatin silver print.

The Valpincon Bather by Ingres. 1808. Louvre, Paris

Kiki de Montparnasse as Odalisque by Man Ray, 1924.

Odalisque and Slave by Ingres, 1839
Representation of the female form in modernist art 

Man Ray’s Cadeux/Gift.

Man Ray. La Femme. 1920.

Images are heavily feminine, fetishised and eroticised. 
Meret Oppenheim in Man Ray's Veiled Erotic (1933)

Yet in each of these images, the female form is either blurred, distorted or suggested, rather than directly revealed.

Man Ray, Les Larmes, 1930-32, silver gelatin print

As such, the woman becomes an object or event, rather than an individualized being. 

Man Ray. Solarisation.1931

More a work in experimental Dadaism than a film, Le Retour à la Raison [Return to Reason] was the first film to be made by the celebrated surrealist artist, Man Ray
Observatory Time - The Lovers, painting by Man Ray, 1934
Death Walks at Midnight

Death Proof

From June 1922 until the following decade the magazine Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Bazaar published many of Man Ray's portraits.

Surrealism had first come to New York in 1932, with the exhibition Surrealism  at the Julien Levy Gallery.

Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, 1931 was exhibited for the first time.

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