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Man Ray's Montparnasse 
 
  
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Product Details 
  
 
Hardcover 
264 pages 
Harry N. Abrams 
Published 2001 
  
Amazon.com 
  
The Paris dada manifesto of 1921 "Dada Overthrows Everything" posed a dare to posterity: "What does Dada do? 50 francs reward for anyone who finds the way to explain us." Cultural historian Herbert Lottman finds a great way to explain dada: by focusing on its court photographer, Man Ray. Man Ray's Montparnasse brings you into the salons of Peggy Guggenheim and Gertrude Stein, and gives context to his dazzling photos: his naked mistress Kiki impersonating a violin; Duchamp impersonating a woman named Rrose Selavy (pronounced "c'est la vie"); Picasso as a toreador; and Proust on his deathbed, asleep at last, seemingly at peace and in some sort of reverie. 
  
 
  
If one man's life could sum up the explosively creative international arts enclave Montparnasse in Paris between the wars, doubtless it would be Man Ray. Who else crossed paths with Hemingway, Mayakovski, Calder, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Atget, Satie, Cocteau, the battling bohemians AndrT Breton and Tristan Tzara, and Arno Breker, who wound up as Hitler's favorite sculptor? It was a tumultuously innovative time. The antiwar Swiss loathed the elitist French dadaists; dadaists quarreled with surrealists. Breton broke a writer's arm with his cane because he badmouthed Picasso, Duchamp, and Gide. When Malcolm Cowley punched out a reactionary restaurateur, it was a great career move--his fame spurred his nascent literary career. Apollinaire warned young dada friends against Cocteau ("Don't trust Cocteau! He's a cheat and a chameleon!"), because he was a darling of high society. Eluard said the surrealists would "shoot him down like a stinking animal." 
  
 
  
What made Man Ray an instant insider was his skill with the camera and his refusal to join the culture wars. "My neutral position was invaluable to all," he said. "I became an official recorder of events and personalities." "He was like the kid on the block with the guitar invited to everyone's party," writes Lottman. "He lived a double life, dressing for dinner in society, then reassuming a bohemian posture for life among the writers and painters."  
  
 
  
Lottman's book is delightful, a quick read that makes legendary names in the history of art come alive as wildly misbehaving young people. When Henry Miller would drunkenly harangue a cafT, he earned a catcall: "Why don't you write a book?" Reading Lottman, you get a vivid sense of how the overlapping lives in that astounding time and place erupted in art. It's a privilege to be invited to such a historic party. --Victoria Ellison  
  
 
  
From Publishers Weekly 
  
With Neil Baldwin's definitive 1991 biography, an autobiography and any number of scholarly monographs available, one might question the need for another book on the great modernist photographer. What sets Lottman's compact and breezy study apart from a thick pack is its view of Ray's Parisian career as a neighborhood phenomenon, one in which the geography of chance which cafes were popular, which buildings had cheap studio space, who moved down the street from who has as much to do with the... read more  
  
 
  
Book Description 
  
In the years between the two world wars, Montparnasse, on the Left Bank of Paris, was a hotbed of artistic experimentation, social change, and notorious affairs. Man Ray, the renowned photographer, was there to document it all: he took his camera into cafes, salons, artists' studios, and writers' homes, and the resulting pictures provide a singular--and intimate--perspective on this legendary period in cultural and art history.  
  
 
  
Well-known cultural and social historian Herbert R. Lottman interweaves Man Ray's biography, filled with intriguing stories of artists, models, dealers, poets, and hangers-on, with his stunning black-and-white images of everyone from Picasso, Duchamp, Dalí, and Gertrude Stein to the famed model Kiki, poet AndrT Breton, and Marcel Proust on his deathbed. The result is an enthralling view of that remarkable time and place, a subject that has endless appeal.
 
  
 
  

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