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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Man Ray

Born: Emmanuel Radnitsky 
Other: Emmanuel Radenski 
Other: Emmanuel Rudnitzky 
Dates:  1890, 27 August - 1976, 18 November
Born:  US, PA, Philadelphia
Died:  France, Paris
Active:  France / US
American surrealist photographer and artist. A major fashion photographer in the 1920s and 30s he was also able to blend his commercial work with experimental styles that endeared him to the Dada and Surrealist movements.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Noted for his "Rayographs," lens-less photograms exploring the pure use of light, his darkroom experiments with the Sabattier effect, and his innovative mixed media assemblages. A Dadaist provocateur, he became the only American member of the surrealist movement. From 1921 to 1939 he combined artistic endeavors with commercial practice, becoming a noted portraitist of Parisian intellectuals and artists, and establishing a reputation as a fashion photographer. The Nazi occupation forced his escape to Hollywood where he established himself as a controversial figure of the American avant-garde before returning to Paris in 1951. 
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Christer Strömholm
Man Ray 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Exhibitions on this website

ThumbnailMan Ray: Rayograms 
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Visual indexes

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Supplemental information


Man Ray

The bibliography on Man Ray is vast but there are a couple of items that I'd like to bring to your attention.

Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais completed his Phd at at Sorbonne dealing with Man Ray and this is covered in his thesis “Le fonds photographique de la dation Man Ray, étude et inventaire”, which is available on microfiche.

The analysis of a single photograph is included in:

Wendy A. Grossman and Steven Manford, “Unmasking Man Ray’s Noire et blanche,” American Art 20/2 (Summer 2006): 134-147 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
Show on this siteGo to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.]Show on this siteGo to website
The International Photographers Hall of Fame has provided a biography.Show on this siteGo to website

Internet resources

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Man Ray 
Man Ray: 12 Rayographs ... 
Man Ray Photo ... 
Man Ray ... 
This is part of the excellent American Masters series of television programs broadcast by PBS in the USA. 
Réunion des musées nationaux (RMN) - Agence photographique ... 
The photographic agency for images held by the French national museums. Excellent material for Man Ray, Brassai and many others. 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.144 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.421-422 
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.178 
• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.166-167 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Man Ray.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.461 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.186-187 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.257 
• Koetzle, Hans-Michael 2002 Photo Icons: The Story Behind the Pictures - Volume 1 (Koln: Taschen) [This book discusses one photograph "Noire et Blanche (1926)" by Man Ray in considerable detail. An excellent source for a detailed analysis.] 
• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.146-147, 163 
• Naef, Weston 2004 Photographers of Genius at the Getty (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [For this photographer there is a description and three sample photographs from the Getty collection. p.112-115] 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Man Ray are included in this classic history.] 
• Sobieszek, Robert A. and Deborah Irmas 1994 the camera i: Photographic Self-Portraits (Los Angeles: LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art) p.224, Plate 75 [When the Audrey and Sydney Irmas collection was donated to LACMA - Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992 the museum gained a remarkable collection of self portraits of notable photographers. If you need a portrait of Man Ray this is a useful starting point.] 
• Szarkowski, John 1973 Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (New York: The Museum of Modern Art) p.82 [Analyzes a single photograph by Man Ray.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections Man Ray was represented in 53 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 


The wit and wisdom.

"I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions."
"I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I think you have to have a real point of view that‘s your own. You have to tell it your way. And, I think that it‘s a mistake to shoot for a specific magazine‘s point of view because it‘s never going to be as good. You have to shoot for yourself and photograph the way you believe it."
"I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence."
"I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence."
"It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them."
"Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask "how," while others of a more curious nature will ask ‘why‘. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information."
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