Man Ray: The Artist and His Shadows 9780300262766

A biography of the elusive but celebrated Dada and Surrealist artist and photographer connecting his Jewish background t

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Man Ray: The Artist and His Shadows
 9780300262766

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man ray

Man Ray The Artist and His Shadows A RT H U R L U B O W

New Haven and London

Jewish Lives® is a registered trademark of the Leon D. Black Foundation. Copyright © 2021 by Arthur Lubow. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Frontispiece: Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, chess, rue Férou, c. 1955 Frontispiece and all plates (except Portrait of Man Ray by Alfred Stieglitz [public domain]) copyright © Man Ray 2015 Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2021. Used by permission. Yale University Press books may be purchased in quantity for educational, business, or promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected] (U.S. office) or [email protected] (U.K. office). Set in Janson Oldstyle type by Integrated Publishing Solutions. Printed in the United States of America. Library of Congress Control Number: 2021932186 ISBN 978-0-300-23721-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper). 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

For Wendy

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contents

Introduction: Man Ray and His Shadows, 1 1. The Radnitsky Clan, 6 2. Alfred Stieglitz and the Avant-Garde, 14 3. Adon, 22 4. Charles Daniel, 32 5. Marcel Duchamp, 39 6. Tristan Tzara and Francis Picabia, 49 7. Everybody Who Rated as Somebody, 61 8. Kiki, 71 9. André Breton and Paul Éluard, 80 10. Lee Miller, 89

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11. Meret Oppenheim, 106 12. Juliet Browner, 117 13. William Copley, 125 14. Man Ray’s Own Shadow, 135 15. The Shadow of Death, 148 Epilogue: The Afterlife, 156 Acknowledgments, 163 Notes, 165 Index, 177 Illustrations follow pages 38 and 142

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introduction

Man Ray and His Shadows

Most modern artists achieve renown by discovering and exploring a singular new territory: Jackson Pollock’s allover skeins of paint, Joan Miró’s biomorphic dreamscapes, Piet Mondrian’s primary-color grids, Francis Bacon’s agonized blurry figures. Each artist developed a style that became as recognizable as a brand. Man Ray was atypical. His achievement arose from multiplicity, and his reputation rests on a restless investigation into new techniques and ideas. His signature was an avoidance of a signature style. Although atypical, he was not singular. The same could be said of his closest colleague, Marcel Duchamp, and also of their mutual friend Francis Picabia. These friendships and others were key to Man Ray. Supportive exchanges with fellow artists and enduring bonds with onetime lovers characterize his career. People took to him immediately. They strove to get to know him, undeterred—indeed, enticed—by his ultimate unknowability. He was a self-made

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man who had tailored his own image so seamlessly that only at moments of great stress did the inner man seep out. Approaching Man Ray sideways, through an investigation of his most important relationships, suits this master of oblique strategies. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Man Ray than to transpose one of his ideas into another sphere and, by so doing, to twist it into a suggestive new form. His earliest masterpiece, the painting The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows (1916), is composed of large, brightly colored shapes that seem to have little to do with the title. Man Ray had been tracing the figure of the rope dancer (what we now call a tightrope walker) on sheets of colored paper and then cutting out the shape with scissors. He was well along in the process when he looked at the bright remnants on the floor and realized that this was his picture. He arranged the colored cutouts into a pleasing pattern, which he reproduced as a painting. At the end, though, he determined that to nail down his subject, he needed to include the rope dancer herself, and he painted her at the top, very small, and connected her with filaments to the large, vivid “shadows.” This introduction serves the purpose of that miniature figure at the top of the painting. Compressed and graphic, it provides an outline of Man Ray’s life—to orient the chapters that follow, which will color in his significant personal connections. As Man Ray once said of his images, “The shadow is as important as the real thing.”1 But first, a glimpse of the real thing. Born Emmanuel Radnitsky in Philadelphia, the eldest of four children, Man Ray grew up in Brooklyn. His immigrant parents hoped their brilliant son would become a professional, perhaps a doctor or lawyer, but Man Ray from an early age was called to art as a vocation. Enrolling in art schools in Manhattan, he rebelled against academic training until he eventually found a congenial home at the Ferrer Center, a hotbed of anarchist thinkers with a first-rate faculty of artists. In the yeasty 2

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downtown New York art scene, Man Ray made frequent visits to the gallery of Alfred Stieglitz, the great photographer and champion of the avant-garde, who helped guide him. At the Ferrer Center, he also made friends who brought him across the Hudson River to Ridgefield, New Jersey, which was then open countryside. There, having rented a cabin, he made two pivotal connections: Adon Lacroix, a Belgian poet, became his first wife; and Duchamp, after being taken to Ridgefield by a wealthy collector, embraced him as a lifelong friend. Both Lacroix and Duchamp inculcated a fascination with avant-garde French culture. New York seemed governed by money, but France! France was the place for art. In 1921, his marriage in a shambles, Man Ray—who spoke no French—decided to move to Paris. Like an older brother, Duchamp took him in hand once he arrived. Picabia was invaluable in other ways, and Tristan Tzara, the Romanian Jew who had been one of the central figures in the creation of Dada, met in Paris the man he knew only through exchanges of letters, as the American who had promoted the concept-driven, convention-defying art movement in New York. The Parisian avant-garde accepted Man Ray instantly upon his arrival. He managed, too, to maintain alliances with these intellectuals even when they turned on each other and clamored for partisan allegiance. Unlike most of the Americans who flocked to the city, Man Ray chose not to congregate with his compatriots. Instead of expatriate Paris, he dwelled among the French in the cosmopolitan milieu of Montparnasse. It helped that he attracted as his lover the most colorful, vibrant, and popular Frenchwoman in the district: Alice Prin, better known as Kiki de Montparnasse. They were together for six years. Man Ray’s intimacy with talented women sometimes had a sexual component, as with Kiki or, for a shorter time, with the Swiss Surrealist Meret Oppenheim. There were other women, though—the American photographer Berenice Abbott 3

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being a prominent example—whom he encouraged and supported within a strictly platonic framework. The romantic relationship that brought the most artistic rewards and cost the greatest emotional anguish was with the American photographer Lee Miller. Like Kiki, Miller served Man Ray as a frequent nude model. More than that, though, she was a photography collaborator who later said she couldn’t tell which of them had taken a particular picture. When she ended their three-year romantic and professional partnership in 1932, he slipped into a suicidal depression. Yet with Miller— as with Kiki, who also left him—he rebounded and formed a lasting friendship. He had gone to Paris as a painter with a handy sideline in photography. No more successful in Paris than in New York at selling his paintings, he realized that taking photographs could provide a living. He was defensive about his trade. Photography was regarded as a mechanical craft; it was just beginning to assert its rightful place in the artistic panoply at the time of Man Ray’s death. Yet as early as the 1920s, he was acknowledged as an artist, especially by other artists, as much for his photography as for his endeavors in painting and sculpture. Man Ray had been in Paris for almost two decades when the outbreak of World War II in 1939 forced his return to the United States the following year. Shunning New York, where he felt unappreciated, he instead joined the influx of European refugees in Los Angeles. By this point, he thought of himself more as a European than as an American. The sojourn in Los Angeles was a dislocation, not a homecoming. Right after he arrived in Los Angeles, he was introduced to a young dancer, Juliet Browner. They were separated by nearly twenty years in age. It didn’t matter. As in his other major relationships, which commenced with the abruptness of a pantomime transformation scene, Man Ray and Juliet moved in to-

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gether very soon after they met. They lived in an apartment in Hollywood, marrying in 1946. Man Ray exhibited in Los Angeles, particularly at the gallery of his friend William Copley. However, the torrent of creativity of his Paris years slackened into a backwash. He devoted much time and energy during the wartime years to reproducing paintings that he had left behind in France and thought, wrongly, he would never see again. Although he lived nearly as many years after the onset of the war as he had before, all of his greatest work dates from the first half of his career. For the most part, what came later falls under the categories of recapitulation and variation. More at home in France than America, Man Ray convinced Juliet, who had never been abroad before they met, to move with him to Paris in 1951. They found a home on the other side of the Luxembourg Gardens from Montparnasse, where they resided until Man Ray’s death in 1976 at the age of eighty-six. He had outlived most of his peers. In his old age, he was often interviewed by journalists and critics seeking firsthand testimony on the legendary Montparnasse scene. He retold favorite anecdotes, until they grew stale through repetition. But his photography, which he had undertaken pragmatically as a source of income, remained fresh. Along with a few major paintings, the photographs—surpassingly inventive and witty—constitute his influential legacy.

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1 The Radnitsky Clan

The shadows in The Rope Dancer resemble pieces of cloth that are cut to be stitched into garments. Such fabrics cluttered the floor when Emmanuel was a little boy. Melach Radnitsky, his father, was a tailor from Kiev; his mother, Manya, a seamstress raised near Minsk. Their match was made in Europe. Coming to New York in 1886, Melach saved up for Manya’s passage two years later. A rabbi married them the day she arrived, which was also the day the newlyweds met. Soon afterward they moved to Philadelphia, which had one of the largest and best established Jewish populations in the country. In particular, Melach’s older sister, Jenny, with whom he was close, lived in the city. Melach found employment in a factory and supplemented his wages by custom tailoring at home. His wife pitched in, as did the children once they grew old enough. There were eventually four: Emmanuel, born on

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August 27, 1890, was followed by Samuel in 1893, Devorah (Dora) in 1895, and Elka (Elsie) in 1897. Shortly before Elsie’s birth, when Emmanuel was seven, the family relocated to New York City, settling in Brooklyn. This was a typical Jewish-American immigrant story at the turn of the twentieth century. The parents strained to pay the bills by plying the trades they had learned in Europe, and the children dreamed of escape. And not only the children sought to shed their telltale ethnic markings. In their adopted homeland, where they recognized that moving up required fitting in, the parents, too, strove to assimilate. At the urging of Emmanuel and Samuel, the family name was cleansed of its east European and Semitic indicators by contracting Radnitsky to Ray in 1912. Melach Americanized his first name to Max and Manya became Minnie. For Emmanuel, who was called Manny in the family, lopping off a syllable of the nickname to echo the last was elegantly simple. Max was a mild-mannered, taciturn man. Minnie, opinionated and outspoken, ruled the household, imposing strict discipline on the children. Their marriage was a practical partnership founded on hard work. Although the family wasn’t religiously observant, it wasn’t so radically nonconformist as to flout Jewish tradition: the eldest son was ushered into manhood with a bar mitzvah ceremony. Living frugally, the Radnitskys-Rays moved frequently but always within the Williamsburg neighborhood, advancing from a three-room apartment to a double flat that had an extra room, appropriated in time by Manny as his studio. Manny sketched and colored constantly as a child. His aesthetic judgment was respected in the family, especially by his mother, who consulted him when buying wallpaper, furniture, even one time a hat. He was as resourceful as he was tasteful. One time, after a lampshade collapsed, he constructed a new one out of brass, secretly using (and damaging) his mother’s sewing machine to perforate it to emit a moody light. Every7

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one applauded his artistry. Years later he would return to the idea of a metal lampshade but leave it in its fallen-apart state. He was fourteen when he enrolled at Boys High School, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Bed-Stuy, following the inauguration of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1907, rapidly evolved into a Jewish and Italian neighborhood. One of its showpieces was Boys High, which opened two years after Man Ray’s birth. Housed in a magnificent Romanesque Revival building in the style of H. H. Richardson and Louis Sullivan, it was clad in thin red brick, stone blocks, and terra-cotta ornamentation. Over the years, Boys High would graduate numerous other illustrious Brooklyn-raised Jewish-Americans, including novelist Norman Mailer, composer Aaron Copland, science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov, screenwriter I. A. L. Diamond, architect Morris Lapidus, and psychologist Abraham Maslow. Already focused on what most interested him, Man Ray contributed illustrations to the yearbook, constructed imaginative pieces of furniture in the woodworking shop, and passionately mastered mechanical drawing. He retained until his death six drawings he made in 1908, using a draftsman’s triangle, of the shadows cast by objects of different shapes. His draftsman’s skills encouraged his parents to envision him in a comfortable professional career as an architect, especially once he won a scholarship to the New York University architecture school. They responded with angry dismay when he informed them that he was declining the scholarship. He was finished with academic studies. He would take whatever various jobs were necessary to support himself. He refrained from telling them his underlying motive: to pursue his calling as an artist. Manny’s fascination with precisely rendered drawings of geometric forms was coupled with another persistent obsession: naked women. Once he had finished high school and found employment in an advertising firm, he enrolled in night classes of life drawing. The chief attraction of these programs was the 8

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opportunity to see—finally!—a woman in the altogether. The first institute offered only plaster casts and laborious repetition; he soon got bored and quit. At the next one he tried, there was a nude woman model, but she was huge and unattractive. It would take a little time before he located the art center that suited his impatient disposition and hormonal agitation. When the advertising firm shut down abruptly, Manny found a better job, at about double the pay, doing lettering and layouts at a technical publishing house—until that firm scaled back and laid him off. But with his talent as a draftsman, he was eminently employable. He quickly secured yet another position, this time with a map and atlas publisher. He would stay there until he could find a way to support himself through his art alone. Before that happened, he discovered just the right lifedrawing class. The Francisco Ferrer Center, named for a martyred Spanish anarchist, operated out of a Harlem brownstone at 63 East 107th Street, in what was then a Jewish neighborhood, and offered classes in a broad range of disciplines—including a nighttime art program, for which nude models posed in an upstairs room. In keeping with the anarchist philosophy, artists chipped in as they pleased for the model fees. On his first visit, Manny was thrilled to see “a magnificent, voluptuous blond with an ivory skin.” She had a face “like a cat’s with elongated green eyes,” and he felt he “would be content to watch her and not do any work.”1 His arousal was heightened by an awareness that along with first-rate, politically minded instructors (Robert Henri and George Bellows, for example, in the painting classes), the Ferrer Center was known for the espousal of free love. He was still living in the family house in Brooklyn. He set up an easel in the bedroom that he decorated with his creations: a couple of portraits, and an abstract tapestry of squares in blacks, grays, and earth tones that he had a seamstress stitch 9

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from fabric samples he found and assembled at home. For reasons artistic and erotic, he was frustrated by his inability to continue his education in life drawing on Sundays, his day off. Enlisting three other tyro artists to share the costs, he approached the feline model he fancied and arranged for her to pose for two hours in his bedroom. (Conveniently, she too lived in Brooklyn.) He told his family that he would be closing off the room to sketch a model with a few friends, but neglected to mention what she would or would not be wearing. After the model had gone, his mother asked why he had locked the doors to the room, and he impulsively confessed, to her horror. There would be no more nude modeling sessions in the Ray household—­ although one time he tried to persuade his sister Dora, who would have been fifteen or sixteen, to drop her dressing gown so he could include her breasts in the portrait he was making. (He was unsuccessful.) Man Ray would soon be moving out of his parents’ home, and after a few years he was situated abroad at a distance so great that communication could occur only by mail. Even within those limitations, he wrote regularly just to his favorite sister, Elsie, not to the rest of the family. Sam, who as a boy was Man Ray’s protégé, had harbored hopes of becoming a poet back when his older brother was mastering the techniques of painting. Once he attained adulthood, Sam found himself ­supporting a wife and children with his wages as an assistant to a real estate executive. He suffered financial and emotional breakdowns during the Depression and died in 1935 of a heart condition at the age of forty-two. Dora—who, sharing her older brother’s witty flair for naming, called herself Do Ray— relocated with her husband to Philadelphia until, also battered by the Depression, they followed the lead of Sam and his family and moved back in with Max and Minnie in the Brooklyn double flat. Like a butterfly who has spread its wings, Man Ray pre10

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ferred not to acknowledge his caterpillar days. Geographical separation wasn’t his reason for distancing himself from his family. It was the other way around. The desire to erase his background motivated, in part, his expatriation. The miles provided a serviceable excuse. Before relocating to France, when he was living in New Jersey, he had neglected to cross the Hudson River to attend Sam’s wedding. That would have required merely a ferry, not a transatlantic steamer. Later, he chose to remain in his Los Angeles home rather than come east for his mother’s funeral in 1945, or, once he’d returned to Paris, his father’s in 1956. Even Elsie’s unexpected death of a stroke at the age of sixty the following year failed to bring him back. On a business trip to New York in 1959, he deigned to spend Thanksgiving with Do and her daughter Florence and their families. Florence courageously asked why he had kept himself so apart from his kin. “My mother was a very nice woman—but she wanted me to be like other people, and I couldn’t,” Man Ray said. “She knew how much I needed to be an artist. That disappointed her. My father was a sweet man, although ineffectual, and I loved my sisters and brother—but I had my own life to live, and no one was able to accept the consequences of that decision.” So who was he really? Florence asked. He shrugged. “I am an enigma,” he said. He told her that any clues to his emotional life lay in his paintings and drawings.2 Florence got much further than the journalists who interviewed Man Ray. He deftly sidestepped all press inquiries about his background. When he was eighty, for example, he told a journalist for the New York Times Magazine, who had inquired about the origin of his unusual name, “When I was born, my father came to the hospital, and the doctor said, ‘It’s a man,’ so he called me Man. It’s a useful name to sign lithographs with.”3 His friend Roland Penrose repeated the same canard a few years later when he wrote a biography of Man Ray.4 “I abhor all bio11

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graphical facts, consider them useless and distracting from one’s accomplishments,” Man Ray told an academic researcher in 1962.5 In a diary he kept as a commonplace book in the 1950s, Man Ray wrote, “To those who ask how I got my name—supposing I had changed my name originally for certain reasons— wouldn’t an explanation nullify the effect I intended to obtain by this change?”6 The effect he intended was to appear as elusive as Proteus, impossible to identify or pin down. Shedding his origins—and, particularly, his Jewish ethnic background as revealed by his birth name—featured centrally in this mission. The insistent restlessness of his output, most markedly in the first half of his long life, testified to his aversion to being categorized. But what in an artistic career reads as unpredictability becomes, when transferred to personal life, unknowability. Hiding behind a screen of jokey humor, Man Ray created a persona to stand in for his person. Once he moved to Paris, he might, like other Jewish artists such as Amedeo Modigliani and Chaim Soutine, have incorporated his ethnicity into his identity. He elected not to. Man Ray remained closeted, even if few were fooled. Just as the concealing of homosexuality constitutes a strand of the gay tradition, so the hiding of one’s forebears is a timeworn strategy adopted by upwardly striving Jews. In both cases, there is a price paid in human authenticity. Still, despite obfuscations and disavowals, and perhaps created unconsciously, the signs that Man Ray was the son of a tailor recur repeatedly in his paintings, especially his youthful ones. The figures in Dance (1915), like those in the Rope Dancer (1916), are as flat as cutout tailor’s patterns. In Black Widow (1916), Francis Naumann has remarked, the patterns are not only flat but serrated, as if scissored with pinking shears, and the underarms are marked with what could be tailor’s chalk.7 The main figure in Promenade (1915) and in La Volière (1919) is a dressmaker’s dummy. 12

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Two decades later, as he worked in France during the ominous buildup to World War II, these childhood memories continued to infiltrate Man Ray’s imagination. One of his major paintings from that time is Le Beau Temps (1939). Describing the vividly colored protagonists in that picture, he said, “When I was a child I often dreamed of strange people that were geometric forms walking in the street, or pushing a cart. I was fascinated by color and in my dreams these personages were very colorful.”8 He did not mention that one of the two figures in Le Beau Temps is a tailor’s female mannequin.

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2 Alfred Stieglitz and the Avant-Garde

If you drew a map of avant-garde American art in the early twentieth century, 291 Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan would be a beacon illuminating the surrounding darkness. At this location, the photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen in 1905 opened the Little Galleries of the PhotoSecession. Three years earlier, Stieglitz had proclaimed the formation of a photographers’ group he called the Photo-Secession, alluding to the progressive art movements in Munich, Vienna, and Berlin that had recently broken away from hidebound establishment art associations. Although the gallery began as a showcase for advanced photographers who, like Stieglitz and Steichen, believed that the pictorial capabilities of the lens rivaled those of the brush or the chisel, the Little Galleries in a little more than a year widened the doors of admission to welcome progressive art of all sorts. It may be emblematic that the gallery, which became universally known by the shorthand of

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“291,” moved in 1908 to the neighboring brownstone, 293 Fifth Avenue, to escape the landlord’s rent increase. The name remained unchanged. 291 blithely overstepped strict definitions. The founders of 291 had one foot in America and one in Europe. Born in 1864 in Hoboken, New Jersey, and raised in New York, Stieglitz was the eldest child of a prosperous German-­ Jewish businessman. He developed his passion for photography as a student abroad in Germany, where he might have stayed longer had his father not called him home. Back in New York, he became a leader in the movement—it was somewhere between a religion and a cult—to advance the place of photography as an artistic medium, preaching that instead of being a tool of documentation, a camera in the hands of an artist was capable of producing an image of consummate beauty. As early as the 1890s, Stieglitz was making photographs that remain classics. Just as important, he was proselytizing: through the Camera Club of New York (which became, after a merger, the New York Camera Club) and a quarterly, Camera Notes (which in turn was succeeded by Camera Work), he argued the case for photographs that could equal in power the other arts without needing to imitate them. Fifteen years Stieglitz’s junior, Steichen was born in Luxembourg and immigrated with his parents to the Midwest when he was two. An aspiring painter, he responded to the potential of the camera with enthusiasm, but when it came to instruction, a teenager in Milwaukee was on his own. Photography magazines led Steichen to Clarence White, a master of technique who lived at that time in Ohio, where he was producing exquisite (if rather bloodless and sentimental) images. Through White, Steichen met Stieglitz while stopping in New York on the way to Paris. With characteristic generosity, Stieglitz encouraged the young man and bought three of his prints for the lofty price of $5 apiece (about $135 each, in current dollars). When after two years Steichen returned to this country, he settled in New 15

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York, establishing a commercial portrait photography studio at 291 Fifth Avenue. His decision in 1905 to vacate that top-floor space in anticipation of a return to France made it available for him and Stieglitz (by now, the two men were close) to inaugurate their gallery. Because Stieglitz doubted that they could find enough worthy photographs to fill a regular program, the partners agreed to complement and contextualize the photographs with modern art. From Paris, where he was now living, Steichen could scout the latest trends. Advanced European art is what drew Man Ray to 291. Although he may have gone even earlier, he certainly attended the 1910 show of Rodin drawings and watercolors.1 This was the gallery’s second tribute to Rodin. Steichen, who worshipped the French sculptor, had imported a prior exhibition of Rodin drawings in January 1908, as one of the first non-photography exhibitions at 291.2 Nearing the end of his long life, the French artist, when working with ink and watercolor rather than plaster or bronze, adopted a more experimental approach to the representation of the human figure. His “unanatomical sketches of nudes,” Man Ray later wrote, were “action pieces which pleased me immensely and justified my abandon of academic principles.”3 The exhibition of Cézanne watercolors in March 1911 jolted Man Ray even harder. (So much so that, in hindsight, he gave it precedence, mistakenly recalling it in his autobiography as the first show he visited at 291.) It took him a while to realize that, despite the expanses of untouched white paper, these pictures were finished. “The white seemed to be part of the painting, it had been done in such an artful way,” he observed.4 The groundbreaking one-man shows of Matisse, Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and Henri Rousseau—the first for Matisse in the United States and the first for Picasso, Brancusi, and Rousseau anywhere—opened his eyes further. A reverse chauvinist, or maybe just competitive with his compatriots, Man Ray 16

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thought less highly of the homegrown artists that 291 exhibited, including Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove, whose paintings he regarded as “brash and humoristic”—an odd complaint from someone whose own work could more accurately be characterized that way. He complained that they “seemed very American and lacked the mystery” of the French imports.5 Whether or not he liked what was on display, he responded strongly. “The gray walls of the little gallery are always pregnant,” he wrote in 1914. “A new development greets me at each visit, I am never disappointed. Sometimes I am pleased, sometimes surprised, sometimes hurt.”6 At a time when there was no other place to see advanced foreign art in New York, Stieglitz performed a grand public service as the hands-on director of 291. An oversize magnetic personality, he struck up supportive friendships with artists he considered to be promising. Along with Dove, Hartley, John Marin, and others, whose careers were kept afloat by Stieglitz’s art purchases and business introductions, Man Ray benefited crucially from the older man’s encouragement. Visiting the gallery during his lunch break, he would talk—which meant mainly listen—to Stieglitz, who was never shy about expressing opinions. He was fascinating, Man Ray thought, although he could be “a bit long-winded.” Stieglitz asked to see his work, but Man Ray hadn’t yet made anything he considered worthy of display. The Armory Show, which opened in February 1913 at the decommissioned barracks on Lexington Avenue, caused such a public sensation that, seemingly overnight, avant-garde art in New York went from being a recondite subject, fit for discussion in bohemian cafés and cosmopolitan drawing rooms, into the topic of the day, extolled or derided (most often the latter) in the popular press. Even though Stieglitz had little to do with the organization of the exhibition, he stoutly endorsed this large-­scale exposure of the new art he had been championing. The exhibition, which displayed the radical works of Picasso, 17

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Matisse, Picabia, and Duchamp but also the already assimilated paintings of Delacroix, Ingres, and the Impressionists, adhered to the principle that Stieglitz followed—placing art in context. The laudable notion was that you could not understand contemporary painting without a grounding in the art that had come just before it. A few years later, Man Ray, describing how the Armory Show overwhelmed him, earnestly told a journalist, “I did nothing for six months. It took me that time to digest what I had seen.”7 It appears that the first painting he completed, once the confusion stoked by the show had dissipated, was his Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz (1913). A tentative work, it shows he was still absorbing the rich meal. In the portrait, he clearly represented his subject’s brush moustache and eyeglasses pushed up on the forehead, added a camera bellows and the number 291, and then cautiously applied a bit of the Analytical Cubism practiced by Picasso and Braque and the vibrant colors of Matisse. Around this time, as was his custom with frequent visitors to the gallery, Stieglitz returned the favor and made a portrait of Man Ray. It was the young man’s first practical encounter with the art of photography. Stieglitz set up his view camera on a tripod and placed Man Ray against a neutral-colored wall. He warned that it would be a rather long exposure time, but not to worry, because blinking wouldn’t show. Having uncapped the lens, Stieglitz, holding a muslin-lined hoop, danced about the tentatively smiling youth, diffusing the ambient light that sifted through the muslin-screened skylight. The exposure took about ten seconds. In addition to subsidizing his gallery, Stieglitz utilized his modest wealth to purchase art. As one of his innumerable supportive acquisitions, he bought three copies, out of an edition of twenty, of a handmade poetry collection, A Book of Divers Writing, that Man Ray illustrated, designed, and produced in

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1915. Stieglitz was an appreciative and canny critic. On the opening night of a group exhibition, he bestowed praise on Black Widow, which had been hung in a corner, and thereby dispelled Man Ray’s peevishness at the poor placement. He told him on another occasion that Rope Dancer was very significant, and that the colors vibrated so powerfully that it was almost blinding. Stieglitz was also masterful at finding rich patrons for struggling artists. In the aftermath of the Armory Show, several galleries specializing in contemporary art opened in New York, creating a sudden demand for product. Unfortunately, shows by themselves did not guarantee sales. Before his departure for Paris, Man Ray had three one-man exhibitions in New York. Not one work sold during the run of these shows. After the deflating conclusion to his third exhibition, he visited Stieglitz, who, as usual, offered useful advice. The previous day, Ferdinand Howald, a wealthy coal-mining owner-operator from Columbus, Ohio, had stopped at 291, seeking art for his collection. Stieglitz urged Man Ray to contact him. The artist and the collector met a few days later, and at the end of their lunch, Howald handed him a check for five hundred dollars. Thanks to Stieglitz, he now had a patron. You could say that Stieglitz not only gave Man Ray a big fish, he also taught him how to catch fish. As an unplanned consequence of his gallery exhibitions, the young artist picked up a camera. For his first show, he needed photographs of his paintings to include in a catalogue and to distribute to the press. Unhappy with the few photos that others had made of his work, he decided that he was better suited to translate his brightly colored paintings into black-and-white photo-reproductions. So in 1916 he obtained a camera and a set of filters, photographed his paintings, and dropped off the film to be developed and printed. He was delighted with the results. The experience he gained in photographing his own art

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would provide him with a way to earn a living once he moved to Paris: what he did for himself he would be paid to do for others. From an artistic vantage point, he took up photography as a way to document his creations, and that established a precedent. Because the work was finished, there was never any possibility that the camera would be employed as a tool in its making or that the photographs would be incorporated into the piece. His photography was simply “a means of recording the result.”8 Such a record, however, needn’t be as dry as a bookkeeper’s ledger. Stieglitz demonstrated the possibilities in the coda to one of the best-known scandals in avant-garde art: the furor over Duchamp’s Fountain. Under the pseudonym R. Mutt, Duchamp submitted a porcelain urinal to a non-juried exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917 (where, as it happened, Man Ray’s The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows was prominently displayed). The organizers found themselves in a quandary. According to the rules, a dues-paying member of the society was entitled to display a work of art without the approval of judges. The society’s directors wormed out of their social embarrassment by placing Fountain behind a partition, blocking it from view. It is uncertain whether Stieglitz knew at the time that Duchamp was the creator, but he sided with the radicals who were outraged by this cowardice. Positioning Fountain on its plinth in front of Marsden Hartley’s boldly patterned painting The Warriors, Stieglitz photographed the urinal so that a dark shadow with one bright eyespot outlines a ghostly spectral shape within the receptacle. Running alongside the headline “Buddha of the Bathroom,” the photograph was published in spring 1917 in The Blind Man, a short-lived Dada periodical that was cofounded in New York by Duchamp. Although Duchamp would later sign other urinals “R. Mutt,” the Stieglitz photograph is the only rec­ord of the original Fountain, which disappeared. Man Ray never acknowledged the precedent, but the Stieglitz depiction 20

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of Fountain showed the younger man that a photograph could both document a conceptual art object and, with the benefit of adroit lighting, be a work of art itself. Man Ray took the hint and ran with it.

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3 Adon

Even if they weren’t politically minded, the artistic young people at the pro-anarchist Ferrer Center shared a distrust of the conventional. For Man Ray, it was an ideal place to make friends. One sympathetic character, Adolf Wolff, actually was an anarchist, but his dedication to modern sculpture (he also painted and wrote poetry) is what drew Man Ray to him. One evening, when no paid models were available, Wolff asked his pretty seven-year-old daughter to pose in the nude, which she did with good cheer and no apparent embarrassment. Near the end of the session, with considerably less mirth, a tired-looking blonde woman in her mid-twenties entered the room, helped the girl dress, and led her away. It was the spring of 1913, and Man Ray would soon turn twenty-three. He desperately yearned to escape from his parents’ home in Brooklyn. When Wolff invited his new friend to work in a studio on Thirty-Fifth Street that he had rented be-

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cause he couldn’t sculpt clay in his shared apartment, Man Ray readily accepted. But he felt a bit confused. Wasn’t that Wolff’s wife who had come to the Ferrer Center? They were divorced, Wolff told him, adding that she was very intelligent and Man Ray should meet her. The wheels in Man Ray’s head began spinning. At this point, they were real estate wheels. He offered to share the studio rent if he could sleep there. Wolff accepted at once. But the studio was clogged with Wolff’s art supplies, and one night Man Ray surprised his friend in an intimate pose on the couch with a female visitor. This was not an ideal living situation. Samuel Halpert, another Ferrer Center painter, who had studied in Paris with Matisse, suggested that Man Ray accompany him on a Sunday outing to an artists’ colony across the Hudson River in Ridgefield, New Jersey. Arriving by ferry and then riding a trolley to the crest of the Palisades, they were greeted by woods and meadows. A walk of under half an hour brought them to a cluster of wooden shacks within a fruit orchard, erected as summer rentals by an elderly Polish blacksmith. Halpert and Man Ray inquired and learned that only one was still available, the largest. With four rooms and a kitchen, it was intended for a family, but Halpert said he knew a poet who might want to go in with them. Halpert wouldn’t live there himself, using it only to paint on weekends during the summer. For twelve dollars a month, they took it. And they were joined a couple of weeks later by the poet Alfred Kreymborg, who too would stay only on weekends. Commuting into Manhattan to his office, Man Ray during the week lived there alone. The novelty of rural life delighted him, and the solitude nourished his painting. A few weeks into his residency, a small group of Ferrer Center students paid a Sunday afternoon visit. Among them was Wolff, joined by his ex-wife, Adon Lacroix, a poet. Man Ray quickly invited the pretty young woman to take a walk, and once they were alone, she ex23

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plained why she looked so careworn. It wasn’t merely the challenges of raising a child as a divorced mother. (Indeed, Wolff shared the parenting responsibilities for their daughter, Esther.) A native of Belgium, where she and Wolff had met, La­ croix was exhausted by the hectic thrum of New York life. A more particular problem was her living arrangement. In the apartment she shared with a couple, she warded off the unwelcome advances of the man and coped with the bitter jealousy of the woman. Impulsively, Man Ray said she should move to his place in New Jersey. He explained that most of the time, he was there on his own. She hesitantly took his hand and inquired when he was thinking she might come. Heart in mouth, he replied, Today! That night, Man Ray, who had the biggest bed, persuaded Halpert to share it with him so that Lacroix would have her own room. The two men seemed a little resentful when they departed early the next morning. However, Lacroix and Man Ray, who took a later ferry, were blissful. Soon she would become his lover, unburdening Man Ray at long last of his oppressive virginity. When he was asked by André Breton and Paul Éluard, in 1933, as part of their periodic surveys of fellow artists, to identify “the most important encounter in your life,” Man Ray replied that it was when “I met Adon Lacroix, who became my wife.”1 Doubtless the importance of his sexual initiation played a part in his answer. But Lacroix introduced him to more than physical love. He had heard of the charms of Paris from fellow painters, such as Halpert, but they were tourists and Adon was an insider. She was devoted to modern French literature. Second only to her daughter, Esther, the key addition she made to the New Jersey household was a crate of paperback books. From it, she would select volumes and read aloud, with pauses to translate, favorite passages from the avant-garde poetry of Mallarmé, Rimbaud, and Apollinaire. Man Ray later recounted that she introduced him at this time, too, to the writings of Isidore Du24

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casse, the self-styled Comte de Lautréamont; but this darling of the Surrealists, who died young in 1870, was virtually unknown even in France, awaiting a rediscovery that would begin four years later, in 1917, with the chance find by the writer Philippe Soupault of Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror in a used bookstore in Paris. Lacroix was astute but not clairvoyant. The arrival of a woman brought to a boil some already simmering male rivalry and misogyny in the New Jersey close quarters. Fleeing this unpleasantness, Man Ray and Lacroix moved on their own into a recently vacated smaller bungalow. (Esther stayed with them part-time.) Once the chilly weather set in, the summer residents vanished. While Man Ray commuted three days a week to his New York office, leaving early in the morning and returning at night, Lacroix lived there round the clock. They heated their bungalow with a wood-burning stove, fueled with trees he chopped down on an absent neighbor’s property; he melted ice for water. New Jersey winters were cold. Frosty, too, was the local attitude toward an unmarried couple that was living in sin. This was not bohemian Greenwich Village. Bowing to the local mores, Man Ray and Lacroix resolved to wed. Having obtained a license in the village, they invited some friends to join them on the following Sunday afternoon and serve as witnesses. When the day arrived, the group went in search of someone to officiate. First they stopped a rabbi who was returning from a funeral and said it was not a convenient time. He offered to perform the ceremony later in the week, but the witnesses were just there that Sunday. The troupe stopped at the offices of the justice of the peace, only to learn that it was his day off. They went next to the home of a Protestant minister, who agreed to join them in matrimony— but in a religious ceremony, not a civil one. Man Ray and Lacroix gratefully agreed. On May 3, 1914, they were married. Man Ray worked hard through the spring and summer of 1914, his major project being a six-foot-long oil painting in25

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spired by the battle scenes of Uccello, which he had seen in blackand-white photographic reproduction. Incorporating fish glue and plaster powder into his pigments to simulate the matte surface of a fresco, Man Ray combined the flattened perspective of the Renaissance master with the two-dimensional fragmentation of Cubism. Instead of the glorious pageantry of Uccello’s three-panel Battle of San Romano, Man Ray’s painting portrays the interchangeable automatons enlisted for modern combat. In August, as he was finishing, war broke out in Europe. La­ croix said his painting was prophetic. He added a gravestone with the inscription AD MCMXIV—Roman numerals for A.D. 1914. That became the painting’s title. Beneath the tablet lies a fallen soldier. As her family was in Belgium, unable to communicate following the surprise German invasion, Lacroix—who was already nervous by disposition—became increasingly anxious. One way her unease expressed itself was in sexual jealousy. Among the small community of artists and writers congregated in Ridgefield that summer and fall, Lacroix suspected her husband of paying too much attention to another man’s wife. And when he refused to take masculine umbrage at her reports of how she had rebuffed overtures from some of the men, she soured further. She told him that she didn’t abide by modern ideas of sexual freedom, and that free love amounted to infidelity. Those words would later reverberate bitterly for him during sleepless nights. But for now, despite these flare-ups, their marriage flourished. Aside from the long-desired physical relationship, Man Ray relished their creative partnership. That fall, he designed and illustrated a small artist’s book of her poems, many with a pacifist bent, others more romantic and lyrical. Titled A Book of Divers Writings, it appeared in January 1915 in an edition of twenty. (This is the volume that Stieglitz purchased.) They printed and bound it themselves. It was a labor of their love. 26

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Ridgefield was the perfect place for Man Ray to depict ­nature—until he renounced that practice. His epiphany came during a camping trip that he and Lacroix made in the autumn of 1914 with two other couples in Harriman State Park, a recently established wild preserve to the north. After they returned to Ridgefield, Man Ray declared that he would no longer paint scenes he saw. He thought that staring at the subject as he depicted it “might be a hindrance to really creative work.” Instead, he would invent “imaginary landscapes.”2 Emblematic of the shift is a fascinating small picture, painted on a seveninch-by-six-inch board, with the title Man Ray 1914. On first glance, it appears to be a green-and-brown Cubist landscape, with vertical repetitions that evoke the striated Palisades near Ridgefield. Closer scrutiny reveals that those pillars and hollows are actually letters and numbers. The entire painting is a representation of his name and the year. “In a picture, is it not above all the signature that counts?” he later quipped.3 At the end of 1915, Man Ray and Lacroix fled the punishing winter chill of their New Jersey cabin and rented a fifth-floor walk-up in New York. The apartment, opposite Grand Central Terminal on Lexington Avenue, had previously been the studio of the Ashcan School artist William Glackens. During the day, the drilling of the under-construction Lexington Avenue subway tore through the air, but Man Ray said he liked the din: it was the soundscape of modernity. (Coincidentally, the Frenchborn composer Edgard Varèse, who would incorporate such noise into his musique concrète, moved to New York at precisely this time.) Within the year, however, the constant rumble and the arduous climb led them to find a new place, this one close to Madison Square on East Twenty-Sixth Street. Like many artists, Man Ray entered a capsule of contentment when he withdrew into his art. He was blooming productively. But his wife? Was she burgeoning or wilting? In his first romantic relationship, Man Ray would establish a pattern. He 27

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wasn’t aware that his companion was unhappy until she resolved to leave him. By that time, the rupture was irreparable, and he would slip into a self-lacerating depression. Her husband’s difficulty in selling paintings troubled La­ croix. She worried about money. One time they shopped in a department store and, to his horror, when they got home he saw that she had concealed a new winter coat beneath her old one. Although that was foolhardy, the need to save was real. They moved out of their flat and took a small apartment on Eighth Street off Sixth Avenue, in still-affordable Greenwich Village. The dwelling was so tiny that there was no space for painting; but the obliging landlady offered Man Ray a room in the attic at a cheap price. Excited about his new work, which employed the techniques of commercial art, he would stay late at the map office, where the tools he needed were available. When he eventually acquired the necessary implements, he installed them in his attic studio, leaving Lacroix as alone as she had been when he lingered at the office. One evening, in a basement Italian restaurant in the neighborhood, Lacroix and Man Ray struck up a conversation with two young Hispanic men. The younger of the two, who introduced himself as Luis Delmonte, said he had just come from his uncle’s farm in Cuba and was working in New York as an office clerk. At the end of dinner, they all shook hands and declared that they would get together again sometime. The next day, Man Ray left early for work. When he returned, he found that Lacroix had dressed to go out, which was puzzling, for they had no plans. She revealed to him that as they were leaving the restaurant the night before, Delmonte had slipped her a note asking her to dinner. Man Ray was bewildered—it was Lacroix who had always touted monogamy—but he did not feel he could object. He left their apartment and tried to paint in his attic. Unable to concentrate, he returned home and found it vacant. He 28

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went to a nearby chess club and was invited to compete with a Russian émigré who was a chess master. After beating Man Ray on the twelfth move, the Russian replayed the match, demonstrating other ways in which he could have bested his hapless opponent. Each variation bore its own name: comical mate, reckless mate, and, finally, tragic mate. That last phrase resonated in Man Ray’s mind as he went home at 3 a.m. to an apartment that was still empty. The next morning at ten, Lacroix unlocked the door. She was as impeccably attired as when she had left. After a long silence, she told him that Luis was just a boy but also a man, and he understood women. She loved them both, and she needed time and freedom to resolve her future. He couldn’t believe it. What about their happy years together? Lacroix, who reacted furiously if he even looked at another woman—how did she expect him to respond? Bursting into tears, she embraced him and said he had been neglecting her. He remained at home for much of the day, which ended with a romantic dinner at an uptown restaurant and an affectionate night in bed. He thought the crisis had passed. However, the next day, when he returned from the office, La­ croix was once again all made up. She told him that Luis had threatened to kill himself if she wouldn’t see him. Man Ray went out that night and returned again to a dark apartment, where he slept a few hours before traveling to his office. It was Saturday morning and no one was there. At his desk, he wrote a letter of resignation, and left his key on it. Next he went to ask his landlady if she had any other apartments for rent, on the pretext that the attic was too small for the new projects he was planning. She didn’t, but she said she could clean out a basement that she was using for storage. He paid for the month in advance and requested that the room be ready in a couple of days. At his apartment, he encountered Lacroix, who was there 29

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with Esther, now fourteen, and Luis. He took Esther to lunch, and when they returned, he spoke with his wife alone. He informed her that since she had been unwilling to choose between him and Luis, he would be moving out. Also, he had quit his job. He would lead an independent life. Her distraught objections failed to move him. Some days later, Man Ray was woken by insistent knocking on the door of his basement lodging. It was Lacroix. She had come to complain that he should not tell Esther so much about their separation. Soon she was in tears, pleading with him to be reasonable. He became aroused by her touch, and forced himself on her “brutally,” he later recalled.4 When the sex was over, she smiled at him and said she was very short of money—Luis wasn’t earning much. He gave her some cash. On another morning, she woke him again, pounding on the door when he wouldn’t open, complaining that she hadn’t seen him in a week and she knew he had a woman with him. Suddenly stricken with stomach cramps, he told her he would come up to her apartment within a few minutes. He burst in without knocking and found her seated on a couch. In a fury, he pulled off his belt and lashed her with it; when she fell to the floor, he continued to beat her on the back before leaving. She made no reference to the violence the next time she encountered him. But they saw each other less and less. The breakup deeply depressed him. He made a painting, Suicide, in 1917, as the marriage was disintegrating, that was based on a Russian play about a man whose affections are divided between his wife and a cabaret singer, and whose sensibility is split between rational and emotional selves. In his despair, Man Ray imagined setting up the painting on an easel and placing behind it a rifle aimed at himself, with a string tied to the trigger. He would pull the string as he gazed at his painting. He didn’t do it, he later said, because he knew it would please some people. Also, if he killed himself with a firearm contraption at30

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tached to his artwork, he would be supplying more ammunition to those who contended that his mechanizing of painting cheapened it. Another dream, of moving to Paris, was more cheerful. He imagined that in Paris he would be among like-minded artists who would understand and appreciate his work. To get there, though, he needed money. The five hundred dollars that he received from Howland, the collector he met through Stieglitz, supplied his stake. Early in 1921, he told Lacroix that he was going abroad. She thought of herself as his irreplaceable muse. “You will never do anything without me,” she said. Man Ray saw himself as dependent on no one. “We’ll see,” he replied.5

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4 Charles Daniel

Lacroix’s dissatisfaction with her life had been exacerbated by her husband’s difficulty in selling his art. Man Ray’s own discontent was related to hers but distinct from it. He felt that even those who supported him failed to understand him. Through Kreymborg, who apparently bore him no grudge, Man Ray had been introduced in New York, probably in early 1915, to the affluent saloonkeeper Charles Daniel, who aspired to quit serving beer and start selling art. At this initial meeting, Daniel bought a painting for twenty dollars. He would soon resolve to take his love of contemporary art a step further by launching a gallery. He opened the Daniel Gallery at FortySeventh Street on the most fashionable stretch of Fifth Avenue, a mile north of 291, and presented Man Ray’s first one-man show there in November 1915. Despite all of the artist’s efforts, including the photographs he made of his work to help publicize the show, out of thirty paintings none found a buyer. The

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show closed, the artist brooded, and the future looked dark; until, like Jove descending with a thunderbolt, Arthur Jerome Eddy, a prominent Chicago collector, paid a visit to the gallery and saw the paintings, which had already been taken down. He liked them so much that he offered to buy six. Even at the discounted price Eddy negotiated, the artist netted the colossal sum of two thousand dollars, with the dealer magnanimously declining his commission to make up for the discount. This sale is what had enabled Man Ray and Lacroix to relocate from New Jersey to New York. But in the expensive metropolis, even that substantial windfall blew away in no time. He was rapidly absorbing the unfamiliar nourishment of European avant-garde art as served up by the exhibitions of the Armory and 291. The collages of Picasso and Braque, which were shown in 291 at the end of 1914, impressed him as much as their Cubist paintings did. Another way of understanding the flat, colorful forms that resemble tailor’s patterns and recur in his pictures in 1915 is to see them as transpositions of scissored paper into paintings. He also experimented with the collage technique directly. As early as 1914, he pasted a piece of gold paper to his painting Chinese Theatre. His most extensive exploration of the genre came in 1916, when he began a series of ten collages that he called The Revolving Doors. Man Ray would never surpass the restless creativity of these years. No sooner did he land on a style than he flew off to discover a new one on the horizon. His second show at the Daniel Gallery, in December 1916, puzzled both the critics and Daniel. The major painting in the exhibition was The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, with its flat planes of color that were derived from paper cutouts. But the most talkedabout and perplexing piece was Self-Portrait, which didn’t conform to any conventional notion of a work of art. It was a wooden panel that Man Ray had decorated mysteriously, plac-

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ing two bells at the top, like close-set ghostly eyes, and a push button at the bottom. Between them was a print of his hand— which could be read as an admonitory sign to keep away. Flanking the buzzer at the bottom of the panel he drew two f-holes, the arabesque openings on a violin. Visitors to the exhibition did not keep away; they pressed the button, expecting the bells to ring. Instead, there was silence. “They were furious, they thought I was a bad electrician,” Man Ray recalled.1 In another mischievous creation, he hung a plank by its corner; when a spectator would helpfully try to straighten it, the board swung back to its off-kilter position. “I was called a humorist, but it was far from my intention to be funny,” Man Ray remarked. “I simply wished the spectator to take an active part in the creation.”2 He was at least half a century ahead of his time. He was prescient, too, when in November 1915 he wrote a short essay that argued that “the essence of painting is preserved in the flat plane.” A few months later, he elaborated on that theory: “The creative force and the expressiveness of painting reside materially in the color and texture of pigment, in the possibilities of form invention and organization, and in the flat plane on which these elements are brought to play. The artist is concerned solely with linking these absolute qualities . . . without the gobetween of a ‘subject.’ ”3 Clement Greenberg would popularize a similar theoretical framework during the rise of Abstract Expressionism after World War II. Daniel was irate that this promising painter was sabotaging his career by producing work that no collector would consider buying. Lacroix, as already mentioned, grumbled for the same reason. After seeing the most recent paintings, Eddy, his first patron, took him to dinner and voiced his dismay at the lack of landscapes. Man Ray remained unswayed. After he and Lacroix moved to their less expensive digs in Greenwich Village, he continued his search for more mechanical and precise methods of making art. In the offices at the map company, he was using a 34

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pressurized spray tank and stencils to apply flat areas of color. He thought: Why not adapt the airbrush technique to his art? Toward the end of his life, Man Ray said in an interview: “At that time I’d already done away with brushes and was painting almost exclusively with knives, but I was still not satisfied; I wanted to find something new, something where I would no longer need an easel, paint, and all the other paraphernalia of the traditional painter. When I discovered airbrush it was a revelation—it was wonderful to be able to paint a picture without touching the canvas; this was a pure cerebral activity. It was also like painting in 3-D; to obtain the desired effects you had to move the airbrush nearer or farther from the canvas.”4 Going close to the surface when he wanted to spray a thin line and moving back to modulate the shades of a larger section, he felt that he had escaped the depressing strictures of his routine.5 “Another thing I liked about it was the spontaneous character of the composition,” he said. “The effect was obtained instantly and you couldn’t correct it afterwards; it was like shooting with a gun, you either hit the mark or you don’t! . . . I was more interested in the idea I wanted to communicate than in the aesthetics of the picture, and here was a way to express my ideas more rapidly than by a painting. I was always trying to get away from painting in the traditional manner.”6 In 1919, the zenith of his airbrush use, when he mastered and then, characteristically, lost interest in the technique, Man Ray would enlist as stencils anything that came to hand in his studio: camera parts, sculptures, draftsman’s instruments, pieces of cardboard;7 and by moving the stencils slightly, he would reapply coats of paint to create transparent glazes or opaque forms.8 “The process is very quick but it requires a lot of preparation,” he explained. “I was like an athlete who would train before performing. If my hand shook or lacked confidence, the work was ruined.” He “tried above all to create three-dimensional paintings on twodimensional surfaces.”9 35

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To our eyes, the airbrush paintings—which Man Ray dubbed “aerographs”—are ravishing. For most of Man Ray’s contemporaries, however, they were mystifying. These cold, mechanical renderings bore no marks of the hand that made them, which was what the artist intended. He wanted his art to be the product of his mind, not his hand. Furthermore, he preferred depicting man-made objects to natural ones. In this, he was probably influenced by Picabia, the sole European artist who attended the Armory show and, by so doing, garnered much newspaper publicity. “The machine has become more than a mere adjunct of life,” Picabia told the New York Tribune in October 1915. “It is really a part of human life—perhaps its soul.”10 By reproducing mechanical forms through the means of a mechanical device, Man Ray went Picabia one step further. Although Man Ray had yet to take up photography as a serious endeavor, at the time that he made the aerographs he was experimenting with cliché verre, in which an image is inscribed on a sheet of coated glass that is then exposed to photosensitive paper. Explaining his mindset in a Museum of Modern Art questionnaire in 1954, after the museum acquired his 1919 aerograph Admiration of the Orchestrelle for the Cinematograph, Man Ray wrote: “It was my object to express an idea almost photographically—before I took up photography—and remove all traces of manual dexterity. . . . It was a relief to carry out an idea like blowing one’s breath on a window pane. While the preparation and care involved in creating an idea by this means were more laborious than painting directly on canvas, the results fully justified the effort which became invisible. The idea remained clear and direct.”11 This was not a retrospective re­ assessment. He told a newspaper reporter in 1919 that what mattered was the idea; its execution could be achieved by anyone who possessed minimal skill. Man Ray’s third and last exhibition at the Daniel Gallery

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opened in November 1919 and featured work of the previous six years, including recent aerographs. One of its centerpieces was the sequence he finished that year of ten collages, The Revolving Doors; the name derived from their presentation, attached by hinges to a spindle that could be rotated. Like his previous exhibitions, the 1919 Daniel Gallery show was a failure commercially and critically. It’s not that Man Ray was overlooked. Already he was a personage who appeared regularly in the newspapers. But he was not understood, either by the collectors who failed to buy the work or by the critics who mocked it. Howald, the white-haired Ohio businessman who came to Man Ray through Stieglitz, was a highly atypical patron. And even though he staked Man Ray to go to Paris, it turned out that there were limits to his adventurous tastes. When Howald subsequently visited Paris in fall 1922, after Man Ray had moved there, he would express disappointment at the art that Man Ray was producing. Maybe he should have been better prepared for what he saw, because in their written correspondence, the American artist was outspoken about his dissolving ties to America. A few months before this reunion, he had grumbled to Howald: “Daniel in New York seems to have deserted me. Not a word nor a cent from him since I am here. I felt before I left that he had not the imagination nor the enterprise to really back me.”12 Almost two months later, at the end of May 1922, Man Ray in a letter to Howald compared his former home to his new one. “New York is sweet, but cold,” he wrote, “Paris is bitter, but warm.—there is real life here, real feeling. I seem to breath [sic], and communicate with people more easily in spite of the lack of vocabulary.”13 Sensitive to Howald’s disapproval of his artistic direction when they had their meeting in Paris, Man Ray tried to make amends. He offered to produce a photographic portrait of Howald, memorializing him as he had done the luminaries of Paris,

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a practice that by now had elevated Man Ray too to the inner circles of the French artistic and social elite. Declining, Howald said he thought a painter should stick to painting. The misfire illustrated how well Man Ray was appreciated in his adopted city and miscomprehended in the land of his birth.

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Portrait of Man Ray by Alfred Stieglitz, c. 1917

Woman, 1920. Man Ray also, on other occasions, titled this Man.

Drawing of Adon Lacroix, 1914

Catherine Barometer, 1920

Self-Portrait (object), 1916

Rrose Sélavy (Marcel Duchamp), 1921

Woman Smoking a Cigarette, 1920

The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, 1916

Dust Breeding, 1920

The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse, 1920

Deathbed Portrait of Marcel Proust, 1922

Kiki de Montparnasse, 1925

Le Retour à la raison, 1923

5 Marcel Duchamp

The initial encounter had occurred when Man Ray was living in New Jersey. Walter Arensberg, the heir to a comfortable Pittsburgh steel industry fortune and an avid collector of advanced contemporary art, brought Marcel Duchamp to Ridgefield on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1915 and introduced the two men. Of course, Man Ray knew Duchamp by reputation. His Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 had caused a sensation at the Armory Show a couple of years earlier. Du­ champ hadn’t come to New York for that exhibition, but even so, the painting attracted greater attention (mostly unfavorable) than any of the large canvases of his friend Picabia, who did attend. Man Ray cannily recognized that it was the title, more than the image, that provoked much of the commentary. “So that gave me a hint, and I’ve always attached titles to my objects,” he later observed. “They do not explain the work but add what you might call a literary element to it that sets the

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mind going. It doesn’t do it to everybody, but the few people that I expect to respond to it, do.”1 Although Man Ray learned a great deal from Duchamp, the flow went both ways. Their mutually supportive tie formed one of the great friendships in art history. At their first meeting, even though neither spoke the other’s language they intuitively bonded—tellingly, over a game. Man Ray brought out a couple of old tennis rackets, and in front of the house, without a net, they swatted a ball back and forth. To make conversation, Man Ray called out the point: “Fifteen,” “thirty,” “forty,” “love.” And after each, Duchamp would reply with the same word: “Yes.” Duchamp was twenty-eight, three years older than Man Ray, and, at five foot ten, about eight inches taller. He was handsome, with a long nose and a thin mouth, and unlike the tousled American he was impeccably turned out. While Man Ray crackled with nervous energy, Duchamp emanated an air of serene detachment. Most people liked him, although there were some— Stieglitz was initially in this group—who scorned him as a charlatan. Duchamp didn’t mind. He took nothing personally. He had met Arensberg through Walter Pach, a wealthy young American he knew from Paris, where Pach lived for five or six years before returning to New York and organizing the Armory Show. When Duchamp arrived in New York in June 1915, Pach couldn’t put him up, as Mrs. Pach had just given birth to their first child. Instead, Pach found him accommodations at the Arensbergs’. Walter Arensberg became Duchamp’s lifelong friend and most avid collector. Crestfallen that he had missed the chance to buy Nude Descending at the Armory Show, Arensberg pursued it doggedly for years before finally taking possession of it. He acquired many less famous pieces over the years, as well as Duchamp’s masterpiece, the Large Glass, also known as The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, which (opaquely, notwithstanding the transparency of the support) codified the sexual 40

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dynamic between men and women in machinery images, outlined in lead wire and filled in with paint on two large glass panels. A true obsessive, Arensberg in later life would forsake contemporary art and devote most of his energies to hunting for hidden messages in the writings of Shakespeare and Dante. “Why do you live so far?” Duchamp asked Kreymborg, one of Man Ray’s Ridgefield housemates, with his typical acuity. “Is there something you do out here that can’t be done nearer town?”2 A few months later, with their bank account plumped up by the sale to Eddy, Man Ray and Lacroix indeed moved back to town, where the friendship between the American Jew from Brooklyn and the French Catholic from Normandy flourished. Duchamp was living in a ground-floor apartment and working in a studio that was separated by a hallway from the upper floor of the Arensbergs’ duplex apartment, on West Sixty-­Seventh Street near Central Park. By the second half of 1916, Duchamp’s English had improved to a level that allowed him to communicate freely with Man Ray. Along with their penchant for games, both men relished wordplay. A few months before meeting Duchamp, Man Ray had published a folded four-page single-sheet paper he called the Ridgefield Gazook, with a cover illustration of copulating grasshoppers under the title “The Cosmic Urge,” and a literary section labeled Il’litter-ature. Beyond a shared fondness for chess and punning, their kinship extended to their artistic outlook. In the 1914 painting Chocolate Grinder, No. 2, which Arensberg acquired, Duchamp used oil and thread to depict a machine with the precise, impersonal style that Man Ray favored in his aerographs. Duchamp declared that mechanical drawing was a way of avoiding the trap of personal aesthetic allegiances. “It upholds no taste, since it is outside all pictorial convention,” he said.3 Like Man Ray, Duchamp rendered erotic subject matter with an air of cool reserve. Both believed that the idea is paramount, the execution secondary. Duchamp piquantly melded 41

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the cerebral with the sexual when he said he wanted to “grasp things with the mind the way the penis is grasped by the vagina.”4 That was just the sort of comment Man Ray might have uttered. It is very rare to find someone who gets all your jokes and amuses you with his, whose artistic explorations mesh so closely with yours, who furthers your ambitions without envy, and who accepts your help without insecurity. This was the friendship that Man Ray and Duchamp enjoyed for a half century. The dissimilarities in their social backgrounds and physical appearances melted away in the heat generated by the electric sparks of conversation. Their connection was a true testament to conceptualism—the primacy of mind over matter. During Man Ray’s marital disintegration, Duchamp bolstered him with calm support. On the day Man Ray moved out of the apartment with Lacroix, he met up with Duchamp at the chess club, where he learned that the French artist had been introduced to a woman, Katherine Dreier, who wanted to start a modern art museum with artists as subscribing members. She had asked Duchamp to be honorary president. He in turn proposed Man Ray as vice president. In the coming weeks, Man Ray joined Duchamp for a planning session with Dreier, whom he described as “a large blond woman with an air of authority.”5 It was Man Ray who coined the name for the new institution, saying that he had noticed in a French magazine the redolent phrase Société Anonyme. Laughing, Duchamp told him that this was the French term for a corporation, but he agreed that it would serve their needs perfectly. Man Ray offered to make photographs to promote the group. After she had satisfied her doubts about his prowess with a camera, Dreier assigned him to produce postcards of exhibited works, and also to photograph major pieces in her own collection. When he remarked that they might add inducements for artists to join, she testily responded that anyone invited should feel privileged. After leaving her apartment, Man 42

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Ray confided to Duchamp that in his opinion, had he been there on his own, Dreier would have booted him out. That year he made an assemblage almost four feet high, composed of a wooden plank to which he mounted a metal washboard. On top of the washboard he attached a long glass tube within a spiral of wire. Behind the tube, where the calibrated gauge of a meteorological instrument would go, he placed a pattern of color strips. At the bottom of the plank, he inscribed the words “Catherine Barometer” (the title of the piece) and, in a circle, “Shake Well Before Using.” This barometer would not predict wetter or drier weather. Instead, if agitated per instruction, it would deliver volatile readings on the artistic climate that its color register evoked.6 After they traveled downtown from the Dreier apartment to the chess club, which was mostly empty on a Sunday, Man Ray suggested to Duchamp that this might be a good time for him to make the photograph he had promised of the Large Glass. Like Chocolate Grinder, No. 2, the Large Glass employed wire to outline sexually suggestive mechanical objects, but—as its nickname indicates—the support was glass, not canvas. Part of Duchamp’s pigmentation strategy involved collecting dust on the glass (which rested on sawhorses) and then varnishing the clumps to fix them to the surface. He posted a sign: “Dust Breeding. To Be Respected.” Although parts of the glass were kept immaculate, the studio that Duchamp had taken after leaving the Arensbergs’, in the Lincoln Arcade building, located nearby on Broadway between West Sixty-Fifth and Sixty-Sixth Streets, was filthy. “The place looked as though it had never been swept,” recalled Georgia O’Keeffe, who visited with Stieglitz. “The dust everywhere was so thick that it was hard to believe.”7 Stringing up a single light bulb in the dim room, Man Ray masked the lens opening with a black paper that he perforated with a pinhole. Then he opened the shutter. The friends went out for lunch and returned in about an hour and a half. 43

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Man Ray closed the shutter. When he developed the film, he saw to his delight that the resulting image was compelling and mysterious. Once he cropped it, no one could ever have guessed its material source. In addition to the dust, wads of cotton used for cleaning the glass and strands of curved wire complicate the field, which is brightly lit on the left and shadowed elsewhere. To our eyes, the photograph most resembles views of an arid planet. For the artists, it more likely conjured up the aerial reconnaissance photographs made in the recently concluded war. Aviation epitomized modernity. The photograph was published in October 1922 in André Breton’s Surrealist magazine, Littérature, under the title “View taken from an aeroplane, 1921.” These early years were the most fruitfully collaborative of their long friendship. Considering the enormous impact that Duchamp exerted on twentieth-century art, it is no wonder that he profoundly influenced his friend. The notorious Fountain isn’t the first of the found objects that Duchamp dubbed “ready­ mades.” That distinction usually is given to the bicycle wheel he attached to a stool in 1913. But Bicycle Wheel, unlike its successors, required Duchamp to join two pieces and is properly termed an “assisted readymade.” As Man Ray later observed in an interview, the assisted readymade was the approach he himself adopted. “Duchamp found it revolutionary just to put a phrase or his name on an object found at the hardware store,” he explained. “No, for me there needs to be not one thing but two things. Two things which, in themselves, have nothing in common, and that I put together to create, by contrast, a sort of plastic poetry.”8 Like Duchamp, he disdained the usual materials of sculpture—marble, bronze—in favor of the everyday items that exist outside the normal realm of art. And then, he added another degree of complication: his constructions were usually intended as subjects of photographs. “Most important for me was that I kept the objects for a very short time and destroyed them afterwards,” he said. “But I al44

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ways conserved them in photographs or paintings. That for me was the real sculpture. One wasn’t obliged to go into a gallery or museum to see them, we had them hand delivered.”9 His first readymade, from 1918, was an eggbeater titled Man. Or rather, it was the photograph of an eggbeater—and, just to confuse things further, on one print, dated 1920, he inscribed the name Woman.10 Unlike Duchamp, who professed to choose his readymades for their “visual indifference,” Man Ray (like Stieglitz in his photograph of Fountain) deployed lighting to create beauty from mundane objects. In his depiction of the eggbeater, a raking light bleaches the background into nothingness and casts shadows of exquisitely modulated intensity. He later explained that “the shadow is as important as the real thing.”11 Why did he call it Man? The gear might be viewed as a head, the whisks as legs; or it could be a rider on a bicycle; or, just perhaps, the whisk can be seen as the sort of doodle of male genitalia found on a men’s room wall. Yet, as the contrary titles indicate, his words are intended to dislocate, not elucidate. The companion piece, Woman, was later titled Integration of Shadows, which is indeed more informative, for this photograph of a glass plate joined with two metal light reflectors and clamped by six evenly arrayed clothespins that hold wavy suspension wires contains shadows that are as solid-seeming as the objects that cast them. Woman calls to mind “primitive” sculpture, as did, more blatantly, a pair of wooden pieces that Man Ray made the same year—By Itself I and By Itself II. The wooden sculptures looked back to his infatuation with Cubism. The photographs of everyday things celebrated his enthusiasm for his new friend Duchamp. Dreier, being an ardent admirer of Duchamp, predictably loved a construction that Man Ray made in 1919 by hanging an unglued discarded lampshade from a metal rod. (In another telling, it was the brown-paper wrapping of a lampshade.) Lampshade has been credited as the first mobile sculpture. Dreier ex45

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hibited it at the inaugural Société Anonyme exhibition in 1920, and bought it for her own collection; when it eventually wore out, she commissioned Man Ray to reproduce it in white-painted tin. (A less credible story maintains that a janitor mistakenly discarded the object shortly before the exhibition opening, requiring the resourceful artist to reproduce it in metal overnight.) Man Ray also photographed Lampshade, where its spiral form could be immune from the insults of wear and tear. In keeping with that theme of endless process, Man Ray in 1920 made an assisted readymade, Obstruction, by suspending from the ceiling a wooden hanger to which he attached two hangers, to each of which he attached two more hangers, and so on, multiplying as if through mitosis until the lowest level reached the floor. Obstruction constitutes another claim for Man Ray having made the earliest mobile sculpture. In his usual fashion, though, he photographed and then disassembled it, so its original incarnation exists only as a static image. In the same year, he photographed clothes hanging on a line and titled it Moving Sculpture. He later transformed the image into a painting, Flying Dutchman, playing on the resemblance of the drying clothes to windblown sails. Both Duchamp and Man Ray were fascinated by optics, both loved to tinker. Early in 1920, Duchamp obtained a movie camera and resolved to make a film focused on a machine he constructed from five glass plates, each painted with part of a bull’s-eye of concentric circles. He attached the plates to a motorized spindle, with the idea that when it rotated, the forms at various depths would merge into a circular pattern. Shot by two cameras placed at different distances, one using green film and one red, the reels could be run together to produce a threedimensional effect for viewers wearing spectacles with green and red lenses. He brought Man Ray to his studio for the initial demonstration, standing close to the machine while Man Ray operated the camera. After a brief filming, interrupted by the 46

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alarming acceleration of the spinning glass, the two men switched positions so Duchamp could watch from the appropriate distance. When they started it up again, the contraption “whirred like a plane propeller,” Man Ray recalled, until the belt broke free and the glass went flying. The accident cracked, among other things, Duchamp’s imperturbable aplomb. He rushed to see if his pal had been injured; but Man Ray, unhurt, was distressed only that a device that had taken so much time to make was reduced to shards.12 In 1920, the promise of movement and transformation captivated the two men. For Duchamp, the challenge crystallized into a question of self-transformation: how might he take on a new identity? He thought of assuming a Jewish name (perhaps as an homage to his friend). “I didn’t find a Jewish name that I especially liked, or tempted me,” he recalled.13 At that point he realized it would be “much simpler” to change gender than to switch religion. (He wasn’t alone in feeling this urge. In his aphoristic foreword to Man Ray’s 1937 booklet La Photographie n’est pas l’art Breton wrote, “I wish I could change my sex as I change my shirt.”) For his new persona, Duchamp arrived at the name “Rrose Sélavy,” which in French resembles a sentence that translates as “Eros, that’s life.” He used the name as the signature on his sculpture Fresh Widow, but he wanted his alter ego to take form. Once again, Man Ray used photography to memorialize an ephemeral creation. He had been making portraits of Duchamp at least since 1916, but those were efforts to convey the man’s character. In these collaborative photographs of Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp projects the mien of a haughty Frenchwoman of the lower middle class aspiring to respectability. He and Man Ray reduced one portrait to the size of the label on a bottle of Rigaud perfume and altered the flacon to read “Belle Haleine,” which means “beautiful breath” and puns on “Belle Hélène,” an Offenbach opera that lent its name to a celebrated pear dessert. Instead of the typical “Eau de Violette,” or “violet 47

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water,” Duchamp transposed two letters to make the word “voilette,” or “veil.” Indeed, the object danced behind more veils than Salomé, packaging in a perfume bottle the fluidity of both language and gender. For Man Ray, a new identity would require a change of location. The beacon of the City of Light grew even brighter as the future with his French-speaking wife dimmed. Through Du­champ and Picabia, he had become acquainted (without physically meeting) the leading Dada intellectuals and artists of Paris. In April 1921 he published with Duchamp one issue of New York Dada, with his photograph of the doctored perfume bottle on its cover. But as he wrote to Tzara, “Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada and will not tolerate a rival— will not notice dada. . . . So dada in New York must remain a secret.”14 Man Ray too remained something of a secret in his hometown. Paris, he felt, was a place he would find kindred souls. There was nothing to keep him in New York, where his work failed to sell and the public couldn’t follow his thinking. Empowered by the unexpected proceeds from the Howald sale, he planned a lengthy visit. Duchamp, who had returned to Paris following a sojourn in Buenos Aires, encouraged him. On July 14, 1921, Bastille Day, Man Ray sailed for France. He carried with him a letter from Duchamp, which read: “I will try to be at the train in Paris when you arrive . . . if you do not see me at the station, take a taxi to 22 rue La Condamine and ask for me, downstairs. I will be in or leave the key (6th floor, top floor, right-hand door when you get off the elevator). . . . I have arranged a room for you in a little hotel where Tzara lives. He may be gone when you arrive. I suppose you will land about the 22nd. Marcel.”15

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6 Tristan Tzara and Francis Picabia

Duchamp was waiting for Man Ray in Paris at the Gare St. Lazare on July 22 to accompany him to the Hôtel Boulainvilliers in the 16th arrondissement, a bourgeois neighborhood away from the artistic centers. Tzara had stayed at the hotel because it was near the apartment of Picabia’s mistress, Germaine Everling, who put him up on her living-room couch for almost a year before he moved into public lodgings. But, as Duchamp predicted, Tzara had recently left the city and Man Ray took his room. That evening before dinner, Duchamp brought him to the Café Certà, a watering hole near the Opéra that was frequented by the Dadaists of Paris. Despite the language barrier, Man Ray felt welcome in this group. His reputation preceded him. Picabia had published Man Ray’s photograph of Lampshade in his Dada magazine, 391, a year earlier; and that spring, he had included Man Ray’s photographs Man and Woman in the “Salon

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Dada: Exposition Internationale” that was mounted in the lobby of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Man Ray’s own magazine, New York Dada, which had come out that April, made its way to Paris, perhaps brought by Duchamp, and it included a letter from Tzara alongside a Man Ray photograph, Coat Stand (1920), that superimposed a woman’s nude torso on a coatrack shaped like a woman. His astonishing Woman Smoking a Cigarette (1920), which inverted a woman’s head so that her hair occupied the bottom half of the frame like a wheat field, and her smoldering cigarette stood erect from her lips at the top, demonstrated his Dada chops. Moreover, he was an American and a New Yorker, and for forward-looking French artists, that country, and particularly that city, represented modernity. “If only America would realize that the art of Europe is finished—dead, and that America is the country of the art of the future,” Duchamp told a reporter for the New York Tribune in September 1915.1 In addition to personifying the New World, Man Ray radiated belief in himself. “Man Ray brought us a lot of strength,” the poet Philippe Soupault, a founder of Littérature, later reflected. “For us, he was a man extremely sure of himself, who knew very well where he was going, what he wanted.”2 And for Man Ray, in turn, the acceptance acted as both stimulant and balm. He intended to stay six months.3 He remained for almost nineteen years. “I was a novelty for the French,” he explained. “They received me very gratefully. They didn’t question my sincerity.”4 Whereas in New York when he showed his paintings he had been regarded as “a drug addict, a madman,” in Paris he was respected, at least by the Dadaists.5 The Paris Dadaists also shared his sense of humor. After dinner that first night, the group walked through Montmartre. Every ten steps, Soupault, the most outrageous of the band, would bang on a door and ask the concierge, “Is Soupault there?” The reply, of course, was always, “No.”6

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In early December, Man Ray moved into new quarters at the Hôtel des Écoles in Montparnasse, the district that had replaced Montmartre as the artists’ quarter. He had arrived. At the same time, he enjoyed another proof that he was where he belonged: his first Paris show. Soupault, who with his wife, Mick, ran a bookstore, the Librairie Six, inaugurated a gallery space there on December 3, 1921, with a one-man exhibition under the billing of “the American painter Man Ray.” Tzara organized the brochure, which required a brief biography of the artist. Man Ray sent in the following: “Born in Philadelphia United States 1890, but I always stay in New York, which for me is the United States. I made my first exhibition in New York in 1912. After, I showed in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Detroit, Worcester, and other cities in America. I am married, but now I don’t have a wife and children. I like white wine the best.” Improving on that semi-informative mixture of truth and fiction, Tzara rewrote it as a Dada dance that completely erased the past: “Monsieur Ray was born one no longer knows where. After having been successively a coal merchant, several times a millionaire and chairman of the chewing gum trust, he decided to respond to the invitation of the dadaists and show his latest canvases in Paris.”7 Man Ray liked this absurdist summary of his life so much that he quoted it approvingly when he wrote his autobiography.8 At the opening at Librairie Six, colored balloons bobbing against the ceiling purposefully interfered with the viewing of the pictures. Duchamp probably helped design the exhibition; in coming years, he and Man Ray would create other installations that made it hard for spectators to see the art—most dramatically, at the International Exposition of Surrealism in Paris in 1938, where Duchamp blocked a ceiling coal grate with twelve hundred coal sacks filled with newspaper, and Man Ray, whose

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plan to admit light through the soffits misfired, distributed flashlights that visitors could use in the dark as they revolved the panels on which the work was displayed. As the Librairie Six vernissage progressed, the high-spirited young guests popped the balloons with lit cigarettes. “Without alcohol they nevertheless seemed intoxicated,” reported a young American who attended.9 Picabia, who had broken with the Dadaists, arrived alone, bundled up in sweaters and scarves in his luxurious open-top Delage roadster, and made sure that Man Ray’s was the first hand he shook. But the American artist was looking a bit bored when a dapper older gentleman with a white beard, dressed in black and sporting a black umbrella and a black bowler hat, gestured that they should go around the corner to a bar. Although neither spoke the other’s language, Erik Satie—for that was the mysterious stranger—talked as if he were being understood. A sui generis composer, with an absurdist streak that endeared him to the Dadaists, Satie wrote wistfully beautiful piano works, such as “Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear,” that markedly influenced younger French composers, notably Debussy and Ravel. Once they had enjoyed a drink, Man Ray indicated that he wanted to visit a hardware store. There he bought (along with some glue) a flat iron and a handful of tacks. Adhering a line of the latter to the flat end of the former, Man Ray christened the appliance, modified into nonfunctionality, Cadeau—“Gift”—and brought it back to the Librairie Six to add to his exhibition. An assisted readymade with bite, Cadeau soon disappeared, but a Man Ray photograph preserved it as an iconic Dada creation. As Arturo Schwarz, a later explicator and patron of both Duchamp and Man Ray, observed, “A sadistic streak runs through many of Man Ray’s objects.”10 The art on (obstructed) view at the Librairie Six was mostly made in America. In his scant five months in Paris, Man Ray hadn’t had the opportunity to produce much new work. He also

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lacked his tools, notably the compressed-air machine he had been using in New York to create his aerographs. Although the exhibition checklist is lost, it would have comprised some of the pieces that Man Ray brought with him, including Priapus Paperweight, a phallic object that was composed of a stainless steel tube flanked at the bottom by two steel balls and capped by a third; and Export Commodity, an olive jar filled with ball bearings. He had made both the previous year, along with Catherine Barometer. (He submitted Catherine Barometer early in 1922 as one of three entries to the Salon des Indépendants.) His collage Trans atlantique was probably made in Paris. Against a checkerboard background, it juxtaposed a Paris street map with a photograph, New York, taken in that city of the contents of an emptied ashtray. The most talked-about component of the Librairie Six exhibition was the group of aerographs, the work that New York critics had scorned. The more advanced Parisian art world, with its enthusiasm for mechanical art, loved them. Admiration, however, didn’t translate into cash. Nothing sold. And Dada itself was running out of steam in Paris. Some historians regard the Librairie Six opening as the final Dada event.11 Picabia, an artist of independent means, saved him from insolvency. Man Ray had been invited for lunch with Picabia and Everling in September 1921, at Everling’s apartment, where he added his own name—“Man Ray, Directeur du mauvais movies”—to a canvas, titled L’Oeil Cacodylate that was signed with similar jokes by numerous other artists who came to visit Picabia during an illness.12 When Man Ray offered to photograph it, Picabia expanded on that idea. He retained the American to photograph a multitude of his paintings, a commission that inspired other artists in Paris to do the same. Picabia also connected him to the dealer Léonce Rosenberg, a leading advocate of Cubism. As so often with professional introductions, that went nowhere. But Picabia’s introduction to Jean Cocteau—

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the French writer who, as Man Ray said, knew everyone (but who, as a dandy and homosexual, was despised by the Dadaists)— would open up the possibilities of photographic portraiture. And Picabia’s wife, Gabrielle Buffet-Picabia, whom Man Ray had met in New York in 1920 when she was there to promote French fashion, initiated his profitable relationship with the couturier Paul Poiret. Within two months of arriving in Paris, Man Ray called on Poiret in his luxurious compound on the rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. Having once employed Steichen, Poiret was a sophisticated judge of camera practitioners. Immediately recognizing the talent in his applicant’s portfolio, he was undaunted when he learned that Man Ray had no fashion experience. He hired him to take unconventional shots of gowns and mannequins (as models were then called), enabling the American to find a lucrative niche as a fashion photographer in Paris. As Man Ray told the story, it was in the course of printing pictures from a fashion shoot for Poiret that he stumbled on the process he dubbed “rayographs.” In his hotel room at night, he would develop his glass plates (this was before he used film) and then make his prints, drawing the curtains and relying on light from a red ceiling lamp. Because he was using a largeformat view camera, he could make contact prints without an enlarger, by simply laying the developed plate on the photosensitive paper and turning on the light for a few seconds, then placing the paper in a chemical bath. After a short time, the image would float into being. By chance, a sheet of paper that had not been exposed to a negative wound up in the tray. He waited impatiently before he realized his error. Annoyed that he had wasted the paper, he absentmindedly placed a few objects on it—a glass funnel, a measuring flask, a thermometer— and turned on the light. As he watched, the uncovered parts of the paper turned black and, against that background, distorted silhouettes of the implements took shape in grays and whites. 54

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What was this? His fashion work could wait. He took other sheets of printing paper and placed whatever objects came to hand: his room key, a candle, some twine. He didn’t even need to wet the paper. All he had to do was arrange the items and turn on the light for a few seconds. These rayographs would become over the next year an obsessive field of activity for him. “I’m trying to make my photography automatic—to use my camera as I would a typewriter. . . . In working for the truth one is apt to get too much of it or get it a bit exaggerated!” he wrote Katherine Dreier in February 1921.13 With rayographs, he believed he had attained his goal. “In my new work I feel I have reached the climax of the things I have been searching the last ten years,” he wrote in April 1922 to Howald, his ever-more-disenchanted midwestern Maecenas. “I have never worked as I did this winter—you may regret to hear it, but I have finally freed myself from the sticky medium of paint, and am working directly with light itself. I have found a way of recording it.”14 Man Ray didn’t discover the process of making images directly on light-sensitive paper without the use of a camera. The tradition of “photograms,” as these cameraless photographs are called, goes back to the earliest days of photography, when it was typically used to make scientific records of botanical specimens. Man Ray wasn’t even the only modernist artist experimenting with photograms. His initial experiments followed the similar work of Christian Schad, which had commenced in Switzerland in 1918 and briefly preceded that of László MoholyNagy, which began in Berlin a few months after Man Ray in 1922. According to Man Ray’s autobiography, Tzara, who had dubbed Schad’s images “Schadographs”—playing on an association between the artist’s name and the photographic phenomenon of shadows—happened to stop by Man Ray’s room on the afternoon following the discovery. Man Ray showed him the products of his first day of experiments, and the Dadaist ex55

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claimed enthusiastically, with the highest possible compliment, that they were “pure Dada creations.”15 He also came up with a name. Fortuitously, just as “Schad” suggested shadows, the American artist bore a surname that evoked the brightness of light. If this story seems almost too perfect, that may be because it is. Man Ray’s narrative fails to note that Tzara, who was living upstairs from Man Ray in the Hôtel des Écoles, possessed a portfolio of Schadographs for which he was seeking a publisher. Probably he showed them to his neighbor. Like most artists, Man Ray denied being influenced by predecessors, especially recent ones. He also had a penchant for creation tales that hinge on accidents. But the likelihood that he knew of Schad’s photograms before making his own does nothing to diminish his achievement. Unlike Schad (or Moholy-Nagy or any of the earliest practitioners of cameraless photography, such as William Henry Fox Talbot or Anna Atkins), Man Ray worked in the darkroom, producing images that would emerge only after the objects had been removed and the developing chemicals applied, rather than on photosensitive paper in sunlight. Furthermore, the artistry he brought to the process is uniquely his own. While Schad made his photograms from two-dimensional cutouts, arranged in nonfigurative patterns as pure abstractions, Man Ray’s rayographs resembled collages, with many of the forms retaining their identifying characteristics as feathers, magnifying glasses, combs, Christmas tree ornaments, and so on. It was the combination of the recognizable with the strange that lifted the rayographs out of pure abstraction and made them masterpieces of Dada and harbingers of Surrealism. The illogical juxtapositions within each rayograph recalled the famous dictum of Lautréamont (né Isidore Ducasse) in Les Chants de Maldoror, the prophetic Dadaist ur-text that was written a half century in advance of Dada: “Lovely as the fortuitous encounter on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.” 56

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Before Man Ray left New York, he had created a mysterious object, The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920): a dark gray blanket that encloses bulging contents (an unseen Singer sewing machine) and is tied up with twine.16 He photographed it and then took it apart. With the rayographs, he was reenacting Lautréamont’s chance meetings—but now, as if with an X-ray, you could peer inside the bulky bundle. More than any other body of his work, the hundreds of rayographs reveal how Man Ray’s sensibility combined a visionary’s flights of inspiration with an engineer’s ingenious and methodical explorations of a problem. He moved his objects toward and away from the paper while the light was on, achieving tonal grays and varying depths of field through this spatial manipulation (much as he had done with the stencils for his aerographs). To produce multilayered compositions, he would mask parts of the photosensitive paper, place an object where he wanted it to register, and then turn on the light for a few seconds. Restoring the protection of darkness, he’d shift the masks and repeat the process with other articles. And the light, too, could be moved. He would shine it vertically or from the side, as a single source or from multiple directions, and by so doing he could produce a three-dimensional effect. After he built himself an enlarger, in mid-1922, he placed objects between its glass plates and projected their shadows onto the paper. He devised all these techniques in the first year of his experiments with the process. Some images he composed with objects arranged into figurative compositions. Using a toy boat and cotton wadding for clouds, he depicted a ship under a night sky; and with such components as an eye-mask, a cut-out doily, a folded sheet of paper, and a candle, he made his versions of Cubist portraits. Even in these, you never forgot that the pictorial elements possessed their own independent lives, which they would recover once they escaped from Man Ray’s darkroom. Other rayographs 57

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were closer to abstraction—for instance, an egg in a teacup, with a tongs and a cut-out square, veered toward Constructivism— but here, too, the constituents remain identifiable. Inside the avant-garde circles of Paris and beyond, the rayographs drew immediate acclaim. In an “Open Letter to Man Ray,” dated and published in April 1922, Cocteau, no friend of the Dadaists, wrote that painters in the future would be relegated to refining the details of the human face, while Man Ray’s photograms were “paintings with light” that “feed the spirit with the dangerous games it demands, and by which a Picasso, a Georges Braque will doubtless go off to join Raphael.”17 At about the time that appeared, an advertisement was circulated for subscribers to a forthcoming publication of twelve rayographs, Les Champs délicieux, in an edition of forty, priced at two hundred francs. Making photographic reproductions of photograms, the enterprise negated one of the characteristics of rayographs that so appealed to their first viewers: these photographs made directly without a negative were as unique as a painting. No matter. The book appeared later that year, with an effusively Dadaist introduction by Tzara. In the United States, four rayographs were published in Vanity Fair in November 1922; and one that autumn and four more a year later in The Little Review. Recognized instantly, their Dada appeal persisted. When the Museum of Modern Art in New York staged its groundbreaking show in 1936, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, a 1923 rayograph graced the catalogue cover. There was something ironic, even perverse, about selecting a 1923 Dadaist work for the cover of that exhibition catalogue, because by then Breton was campaigning furiously (but futilely) against mixing his Surrealism with the Dada he loathed. The definitive rupture between the Dadaists and Surrealists came on July 6, 1923. Rayographs played a small supporting role in this legendary dustup, which erupted in the midst of a Dada revue that Tzara organized and called Soirée du coeur à 58

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barbe, or Bearded Heart Party. Presented at the Théâtre Michel, the event included performances of music by Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, and Satie; the reading of poems by Tzara, Soupault, Cocteau, and Apollinaire; and a short absurdist play by Tzara, Le Coeur à gaz. The day before, Tzara asked Man Ray to contribute a film. Man Ray said he had nothing to show. With Duchamp in New York, he had tried to film spinning discs; from that near-fatal stereoscopic experiment, only a couple of frames survived. The two friends had also collaborated on a scandalous film in which an eccentric New York personality, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, shaved her pubic hair; but that too was destroyed in developing, with just a few frames salvaged. He had no more than a minute of usable film. A determined impresario doesn’t accept refusal so easily. Tzara, who had already announced in a flyer that the American artist would be contributing a film, suggested a movie version of the rayographs. The challenge intrigued Man Ray, who said he would try. The overnight creation, which he called Le Retour à la raison, or “return to reason,” is a two-and-a-half-minute abstract film that is generally regarded as the first independent French art movie. With a stuttering tempo, it incorporates different strategies for transferring a photogram to film. For one sequence, Man Ray placed a solitary tack in the center of each frame, making a succession of rayographs. For a different effect, he extended a spring down a stretch of film strip, using that repeating spiral form to override the borders of the frames. Taking a third approach, he scattered hatpins over a length of film—using individual objects, as with the tacks, but disregarding the frame boundaries, as with the spring. He interspersed positive and negative images, and sometimes he superimposed these photograms on a photonegative of a nude model, although that would not be visible to the audience. Indeed, an appre­ ciation of his technique requires examination of the film strip. 59

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Once the film is projected, many of these subtleties become visible only on a subliminal level, if at all. The erotic subtext, though, is brought to the surface at the end of the film, with a segment he had made with his camera of a nude woman whose torso is striped like mattress ticking by light coming through the window curtain. He also incorporated other film he had on hand, of an egg-crate divider dangling from a string, his trusty spiral lampshade in motion, and a fairground at night. For the premiere screening, he glued the segments together and hoped for the best. Unfamiliar as he was with splicing, the film broke twice, forcing him to go onstage to fix it. In a night of disruptions, though, this one was barely worth notice. Breton, brandishing a cane, broke the arm of a speaker he thought had insulted Picasso and other friends. He was ejected. Later that evening, Paul Éluard, who would become part of Man Ray’s inner circle, vented his fury at the discovery that his poetry had been grouped on the program with Cocteau’s by charging the stage and pummeling Tzara. The brawling pandemonium continued outside the theater following the conclusion of the entertainment. Already by this time, Éluard and Breton hated Tzara and Cocteau. Picabia did not speak to Tzara and had a fractious relationship with Breton. Cocteau was on good terms with Picabia but with none of the others. Yet Man Ray would be friendly with all of these men over the course of his lifetime. In the corrosive world of Parisian arts and letters, he was the universal emollient.

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7 Everybody Who Rated as Somebody

Early in his friendships with Tzara and Picabia, Man Ray photographed each man in a telling pose. Tzara, born Samuel Rosenstock, was the provocative showman of Dada, a short Romanian Jew who had indulged a flair for vaudeville as a performer at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, where Dada was born. Although Tzara, once he arrived in Paris, dedicated himself primarily to writing, he never gave up clowning. In a portrait made in October 1921, not long after they met, Man Ray seated Tzara on top of a ladder, smoking a cigarette and nonchalantly oblivious to an axe—ominously attached to an alarm clock—that dangled overhead. Man Ray superimposed the image on another photograph, this one of a female nude, who is represented much larger than the small male figure. The composite melds the dangerous nonsense of Dada with the sexual obsessions of Surrealism, the movement that was about to supersede it. (A Man Ray photograph taken at the Comte de

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Beaumont’s costume ball of June 1924, in which the diminutive and kneeling Tzara kisses the hand of the extremely tall heiress Nancy Cunard, his lover at the time, rings a later variation on this theme.) Depicting Tzara as a devil-may-care provocateur flattered his self-image. The portrait Man Ray made of Picabia a few months later did the same. Independently wealthy, Picabia could indulge a passion for expensive automobiles. Man Ray posed him behind the wheel of his convertible roadster, looking like the man about town he was, not the garret-dwelling painter he wasn’t. Man Ray as a portrait photographer plumped up egos with sensitivity and flair, intuiting something deep about who a person was and how he or she wished to be publicly regarded. On a more superficial level, he flattered his subjects by photographing them with a long lens from a distance and enlarging the image, thereby softening their wrinkles and skin flaws. For the same reason, he would deliberately overexpose the film. “With regard to the exposure time, I often over-expose my portraits three or four times,” he said. “The result is very kind to the face.”1 Man Ray depicted Cocteau many times. As early as 1921, he photographed him with Tzara, connected by the spiral of Lampshade like a clerical collar come undone. But the picture that seems to have won Cocteau’s enthusiasm shows him holding an empty frame and gazing earnestly and anxiously through it, with a bust behind him that rests outside the frame molding. Cocteau the dandy and aesthete was gratified to be presented as a self-made work of art. Cocteau was presumably appreciative as well when Man Ray photographed him in 1922 gazing at a model of a boat, and titled it Le Bateau ivre, in a nod to the author of the poem of that name, and one of Cocteau’s idols, Arthur Rimbaud. He began bringing Parisians to the small apartment to be photographed by the American newcomer. Although he could be on the outs with this one or that, Cocteau 62

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really did know everyone in the artistic circles of Paris. In November 1922, a little more than a year after Man Ray had arrived in the city, Cocteau called his hotel and informed him that Marcel Proust had just died and Marcel’s younger brother, Robert, would permit a photographer to come the next day to memorialize the writer on his deathbed. Man Ray photographed the corpse in profile, black-bearded, with one dark-circled, closed eye visible. Cocteau said Man Ray could keep a print for himself but not publish it. Picabia, like Cocteau, collected friends. The commission to photograph his paintings led other artists to request the same. When he showed up, Man Ray would bring an extra glass plate to capture the creator as well as the creations. In that way, he scored his first true celebrity portrait six months after his arrival. Henri-Pierre Roché, a friend of Duchamp, had met Man Ray in New York, and he knew from Duchamp that the recent arrival was struggling to support himself in Paris as a photographer. Roché represented a wealthy American collector, John Quinn, who wanted images to guide his purchase of Picasso paintings. Roché arranged in February 1922 for Man Ray to visit Picasso’s studio to take pictures to send to Quinn. As Man Ray was leaving, he asked if he might make a portrait. In the resulting photograph, with paintings in blurred focus in the background, Picasso stands, the gentleman artist, dapper and cautiously watchful, in a shirt and tie, a buttoned cardigan vest, and a heavier sweater. He liked the picture so much that he would ask Man Ray to photograph him many times afterward. Indeed, for a while, Man Ray was the only photographer Picasso would allow. Like Cocteau, he became Man Ray’s friend. Along with portraying Picasso, it was natural that Man Ray would photograph Picasso’s Cubism confrère Georges Braque. Indeed, if Man Ray’s not always reliable dating is to be trusted, he photographed Braque (and the other leading Cubist, Juan Gris) in 1922, before landing the trophy Picasso. He recalled 63

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late in life that Braque was one of those who requested photographs of paintings.2 But these registrar assignments weren’t Man Ray’s only way of obtaining portrait commissions. Shortly after his arrival in Paris, he did a sitting with Gertrude Stein in his hotel room. (He didn’t like her.) He would go on to photograph Stein at home with her companion, Alice Toklas, and to produce numerous other portraits; to his mind, she patronized him like a tradesman and, even worse, loftily refused to pay for the prints. But she was very well connected, and his studio practice relied on referrals. His photographing in 1923 of another American writer, the poet Ezra Pound, led Pound, years later, to recommend him to the Spanish painter Joan Miró. Paris, unlike New York, was a city in which the writers, artists, and musicians mingled. “That’s another reason I stayed in Paris,” Man Ray told a journalist. “There was communication between the different artistic creative activities. The writers are aware of what the painters are doing. The painters are often poets and writers themselves. . . . In America, everything is compartmentalized, pigeonholed.” Because cultural commerce by this time demanded photographic images of its producers, Man Ray was in constant demand. “I was like a doctor,” he said. “Everybody needed me. It was like selling bread and meat.”3 And so, in a short span of time, Man Ray became the Nadar of the 1920s. Compared with the theatrical, romantic portraits made by his predecessor, Man Ray’s were understated, direct— in a word, modern. A master of improvisation, he made some of his most memorable portraits by accident. He was visited in 1923 by Ernest Hemingway, who was still a promising young author of short stories. Stopping in the bathroom, Hemingway mistook a chain that operated a casement window for the toilet flush. The window crashed on his skull. After Man Ray bandaged Hemingway’s forehead, he took a picture of the handsome writer looking dashingly wounded. Hemingway loved it. The pain was more acute when James Joyce, recently out of eye surgery, vis64

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ited Man Ray’s studio, having been sent there by bookstore owner Sylvia Beach in January 1922, shortly before she published Ulysses. Joyce found the bright lights excruciating. In the shot Man Ray chose, Joyce is twisting away from the illumination. Notwithstanding the pangs of the process, the Irish writer appreciated the result. Writers like to project a tortured image. Years later, Joyce hired Man Ray to photograph his son’s wedding. Sinclair Lewis also approved of the psychologically devastating portrait Man Ray made in which the severely alcoholic novelist is posed alongside the wooden spiral of a wine press, looking as if almost all the juice has been squeezed out of him. One thing his sitters appreciated was Man Ray’s policy of minimizing the time and effort required for a shoot. “Don’t tire your model, do everything rapidly, in ten minutes,” he ­explained in 1951. “Don’t give the impression of working (but this should not prevent you from shooting your twelve films). When my clients leave my studio they often tell me: ‘I never had such an easy sitting.’ ”4 Unless he was working with a professional model, he would suggest an expression, not command it. He knew that ordering a grin would usually produce a grimace. “I never say ‘Smile,’ never,” he recounted. “I look in the eye of whoever is in front of me and say, ‘Show me your teeth!’ I get the prettiest smile.”5 He wheedled Virginia Woolf into using dark lipstick to counteract the bleaching effect of the lights. Her husband, Leonard, judged it the best likeness ever made of her.6 He regarded the portrait that became his most famous as a failure. Luisa Casati, a wealthy marchesa in her early forties, was a patron of the arts who titillated high society through such affected eccentricities as walking down the street naked beneath a fur coat, with a pair of pet cheetahs in jeweled collars on leashes. Her maquillage was equally startling, the face powdered a deathly white and eyes ringed in black kohl. She commissioned a portrait in 1921, before Man Ray acquired a studio. 65

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While Gertrude Stein had been content to pose in his tiny apartment, the marchesa wanted to be photographed at home; but when he plugged his lights into the electrical outlet in her suite at the Hôtel Ritz, the fuse blew. Forced to rely on the dim light provided by her room lamps, he needed a long exposure. So he asked her to sit still, saying that if she blinked it wouldn’t matter. He was wrong. When he developed the negatives, he saw that she had two or three pairs of eyes. He told her the sitting was a flop. She wanted to see the prints anyway, and once she did, she responded jubilantly. “You have not only made my portrait, you have photographed my soul,” she said, ordering dozens of copies to send to her friends.7 It became an iconic image of 1920s decadence. Late in life, he counted it as one of the worst portraits of his career.8 Fashion photography was even more lucrative than portrait making, and the boundary between society portraiture and fashion coverage was indistinct. Man Ray slipped back and forth with ease. In November 1922, Frank Crowninshield, the forward-thinking editor of Vanity Fair, devoted a full page of the magazine to four rayographs, along with a description of how they were made and a portrait of Man Ray. (Crowninshield had published abstract photograms by another artist, Ira Martin, a few months earlier.) Man Ray’s photograph of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas ran in Vanity Fair the following year. At the same time as he was appearing in this stylish Condé Nast magazine, Man Ray was producing fashion photographs for Poiret. An art collector as well as a couturier, Poiret liked the rayographs so much that he bought a couple for himself, and also spread the word; a fashion editor who saw Poiret’s rayographs met with Man Ray and acquired a group of photographs (although paying very little for them). Man Ray’s career as a magazine fashion photographer did not take off until the thirties. However, the foundation for his fashion work was laid at this time, around 1923, when the Dada66

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ists’ mechanical representation of sexuality was morphing into the Surrealists’ game of blurring the artificial and the natural woman. The shift was intellectually subtle, viscerally sharp. No one would find erotic a Dadaist picture like Man Ray’s Coat Stand, which superimposed a live woman on a female-figure coat stand, even though the woman was exposed from her breasts to mid-thigh. Nor was there anything sexy about egg beaters or gear wheels. On the other hand, the photograph Man Ray made in 1925 at the Pavillon de l’Elégance in the Grand Palais (part of the exposition that engendered Art Deco) of a dummy dressed in an evening gown and about to ascend a staircase, was published on the cover of La Révolution surréaliste. It straddled the gap between the real and the contrived, the place fashion dwells and the favored fault line of the Surrealists obsessed with the allure of Woman. Man Ray had moved to Paris to work freely as a painter, yet was devoting much of his time to photography. In later years, he explained this as a matter of economic necessity, but that wasn’t entirely true. With any new métier, he rose to the challenge of acquiring skills, then grew restless once he commanded the field. “I’ve often said: ‘To master a medium you’ve got to despise it a bit too,’ ” he reflected. “That means that you’ve got to be so expert and sure of yourself in that medium that it is no longer amusing or interesting to you—it becomes a chore.”9 He had learned, using the recent technology of panchromatic plates, to reproduce faithfully the values of a painting in black and white. With a steady influx of sitters, he was exploring portraiture. And his fascination with photography extended beyond paying assignments. He recognized mastery in the medium, even when the practice differed from his own. Down the street from his highly desirable studio on the rue Campagne-Première, which he was able to lease one year after his arrival in town, lived the aging and far-from-famous Eugène Atget. “I discovered him!” 67

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Man Ray said, with some exaggeration, years after Atget had been ushered into the pantheon of photography.10 In fact, Atget, who produced documentary photographs primarily to sell to artists, was known within the Montparnasse community. Photographing ancient Parisian streets and buildings, preserving them before they disappeared, he was himself a vestige of a culture on the verge of extinction. “He had albums on printing out paper which he printed in a little frame putting it outside his window in his backyard in the sun, and as soon as he had these prints he put them in a book,” Man Ray recalled in an interview. “You could go up to him and buy a print for 5 francs, which is about one dollar, or 50 cents, and then he’d replace it.” Man Ray once pleaded with him to borrow some plates to make prints from them on modern paper, but Atget would not relinquish the old ways. Instead, Man Ray could visit him occasionally and purchase a few of Atget’s prints, destined to fade because they were fixed with saltwater. He especially sought those images of Atget that possessed a Surrealist strangeness. “He was a very simple man, he was almost naïve, like a Sunday painter, you might say,” Man Ray said. “He worked every day. I had a couple of things reproduced in the 20’s in a surrealist magazine—a crowd standing on a bridge looking at the sky, at an eclipse. He said: ‘Don’t put my name on it.’ He didn’t want any publicity. ‘These are simply documents I make.’ ”11 Even if he didn’t really discover Atget, Man Ray secured the older man’s legacy, if only indirectly, through the initiative of his assistant. Man Ray had met Berenice Abbott when she was a young sculptor in Greenwich Village. Impressed by her features, he recruited her as a (clothed) model. They became reacquainted in Paris, where she had arrived shortly before he did. “She was starving, and I asked her to come and help me, because I was loaded with work,” he recalled.12 She signed up as his first laboratory assistant, learning on the job, and grew to become one of the most illustrious photographers to emerge from 68

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his studio, in a group that included Bill Brandt, Jacques-André Boiffard and, most significant for Man Ray personally, Lee Miller. Of Man Ray’s photography, Abbott later said, “His portraits of men were good, but he always made the women look like pretty objects. He never let them be strong characters in themselves.”13 Abbott became as sought-after a portraitist of literary Paris as her mentor. “To be ‘done’ by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott meant you were rated as somebody,” wrote Sylvia Beach, who crowded her bookstore walls with their photographs.14 Abbott learned about Atget from Man Ray, who regarded the eccentric older photographer with the blend of admiration and condescension that Picasso and his friends bestowed on Henri Rousseau: as a self-created naïf who anticipated the Surrealist style. Abbott, however, was awed by the mysterious magic of Atget’s photographs, buying many of them. She even managed to convince the retiring photographer to sit for a portrait in 1927. When she called on him to show the results, she discovered that he had died soon after the session, at the age of seventy. She bought thousands of his glass-plate negatives, as many as she could. They were eventually acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. The preservation of this archive, and the writing that Abbott published on the photographs, allowed future generations to appreciate Atget’s achievement. Reciprocally, Atget’s depictions of the buildings and monuments of Paris inspired the career-making photographs that Abbott took in New York upon her return in 1929. Abbott’s debt to Atget is more substantial than Man Ray’s. The many streetscapes that Man Ray produced in the style of Atget are little known, largely because for this serial innovator they are relatively derivative. He was literally traveling the same territory that Atget had covered, and his photographs of Parisian doorways, fountains, and bridges are very close to Atget’s prototypes. But there are exceptions: the phallic tower of SaintGermain-l’Auxerrois threatened by a curvy, toothy line of wa69

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terspouts; a skyward-looking man who, counter to the rules of perspective, is shorter than a lamppost and the Vendôme column, which are evenly spaced in the distance on the receding rainy street; the unfinished edge of an apartment façade on the boulevard de Raspail that seems a false front; a copy of the Statue of Liberty in the Luxembourg Gardens.15 Man Ray couldn’t compete with Atget’s delicacy. Instead, he amplified the incongruities in these urban scenes, so that the Surrealist features poked out more prominently. His finest landscape, Terrain vague (1932), would never have been made by Atget, because it is not a document that would have been of any use to an artist. It is a bleak picture of a bare tree trunk, a broken bench or bed frame, and a stepped path up a sandy bank. Two-thirds of the frame is devoted to a pale sky behind the silhouette of the tree. It is, as one commentator has observed, a suitable stage set for Waiting for Godot.16

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8 Kiki

The best way to learn the French language, Duchamp advised Man Ray, was to acquire a French girlfriend. The brash American didn’t wait long. In the late autumn of 1921, Man Ray was having a drink in a Montparnasse café with Marie Vassilieff, a Russian-born artist known for her Cubist paintings and celebrity portrait dolls. Two women entered the café, both heavily made up, with short hair and low bangs, the fashion of the moment. The prettier one waved to Vassilieff. “That’s Kiki,” Vassilieff informed Man Ray. He watched as a vociferous quarrel erupted. Because the women weren’t wearing hats, the waiter said, they looked like whores. He refused to seat them. As their voices rose in volume, Man Ray called over the waiter and ordered drinks for the women. Complying, the waiter explained with profuse apologies that he had no choice when it came to admitting unaccompanied ladies. The tempest quickly

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passed. Kiki and her friend joined Man Ray’s table merrily, and the foursome soon proceeded from the café to a neighboring bistro for dinner. Afterward, Kiki accompanied Man Ray to Camille, a film version of Alexandre Dumas’s La Dame aux Camélias, starring Rudolph Valentino and Alla Nazimova. Before they said good night, she agreed, with some reluctance, to come to his studio and pose for his camera. Kiki earned her living as an artist’s model. Like many young women from the provinces, Alice Ernestine Prin, as she was properly called, had arrived in Paris without any particular skills. The illegitimate child of a coal and charcoal merchant, she grew up in a village in Burgundy, raised by her mother, a linotype operator for the local newspaper. Many women in her position fell into prostitution. Kiki managed to avoid that fate. Apparently the closest she came was to bare her breasts to appreciative old men who paid a pittance for the view. Her hesitation in posing for a photographer stemmed from a tragicomic modesty. She was very sensitive about her paucity of pubic hair, a failing that a painting could disguise but a photograph would bare. Nonetheless, she came and sat for the camera, and then returned to see the prints. She liked them. She undressed to model again and sat beside Man Ray. They embraced, and for the time being the photography session was forgotten. The next day she moved in. “He has an accent that I like and a kind of mysterious way with him,” she wrote a friend.1 Before long, fortified by regular meals as Man Ray’s mistress, she put on weight and, no longer malnourished, grew some pubic hair. In the artist community of Montparnasse, which was exceedingly international, Kiki had a prior history of liaisons with Jewish painters. She was once the lover of Chaim Soutine and Moise Kisling (as well as the Polish artist Maurice Mendjizky, from east Europe but not Jewish—and, going farther east, the Japanese painter Tsuguharu Foujita). Still, she wasn’t im72

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mune to the prejudices of her class and time. Peggy Guggenheim’s mother, who was the daughter of a Jewish banker and the widow of a Jewish mining heir, reacted with horror one evening at her daughter’s Sunday evening salon when Kiki, embroiled in a vehement argument with Man Ray, hit his face and called him “a dirty Jew.”2 But Kiki would say or do almost anything when angry. Considering his first glimpse of her, Man Ray should not have been surprised by the flare-ups that colored their eightyear relationship. She was so jealous that she once smudged out all the names and numbers in his address book. She was also romantic, in ways that were foreign to the cool American. “I have a heavy heart when I think that tonight you will be alone in your bed, because I would like to put you beddy-bye myself so that you could snuggle up in my arms,” she wrote while visiting her family in Burgundy, a few months after they met. “I love you too much, . . . you are not made to be loved, you are too calm. . . . But I have to take you as you are, you are, after all, my lover, whom I adore, who will make me die of pleasure, of sorrow, and of love. . . . I bite your mouth until it bleeds, and I’m getting drunk on your indifferent, sometimes even mean, look.”3 As she correctly judged, his demeanor was amused and slightly bemused—in a word, detached. His act of self-creation was so comprehensive that the Man-made armor shielded him, except in a few rare and remarkable instances, from expressing human feelings. Renouncing his family and ethnic origins, he had invented a persona that masked his person. Apparently it was the price he felt was required to become what he most wanted to be: an artist. But the self-absorption and self-protection that first Lacroix and now Kiki perceived also contributed to a missing element in his art—the reliance on inventiveness and wit, the lack of self-revelation and emotion. Once, when Kiki told Man Ray that she loved him, he 73

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snapped back, “Love, what’s that, imbecile? We don’t love, we screw.” Hurt and outraged, Kiki soon took up with an American newspaperman, and impulsively agreed when he asked her to accompany him to the United States in the summer of 1923. They went to New York, where Kiki spent time in Brooklyn with Man Ray’s sister Do Ray Goodbread (whom she referred to as Madame Bon Pain). Stranded after the newsman returned to his home in St. Louis, and unable to speak the language, she spent her days at the movies until, desperate, she wired Man Ray for help. He sent her money to come back to Paris, where, in her absence, he had given up his apartment and moved into a hotel room that was closer to his studio. Their reunion was splendid. A few days later, though, on a café terrace Kiki accused him of having had an affair while she was away. She slapped him. He marched out of the café and she followed him back to the hotel. In their room he struck her so hard she fell onto the bed. She threw a bottle of ink at him, missing her target and splattering the wall, and then she broke the window with her fist. The hotel proprietor came up to investigate the commotion and ordered them to leave immediately. Laughing hilariously, they made up and checked into another hotel. Despite her volatile temperament, Kiki was the perfect instrument for Man Ray’s art. As a model, she was accustomed to following directions. And on her own, she possessed a highly individual flair for self-transformation. She might paint triangles around her eyes to complement earrings of that shape, or she would adorn a hat with real cherries. Each day, she appeared as a new woman, and Man Ray was only too happy to assist in these metamorphoses. He would shave her eyebrows and draw them new; he painted her eyelids copper or silver or jade green. Her body was beautiful, her profile distinctive. “She had a wonderful nose that seemed to jut out into space,” remarked Alexan-

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der Calder, who made two wire sculptures of her face.4 Man Ray delighted in the contour of her head—“a perfect oval,” he said.5 He capitalized on its geometry in one of his most renowned photographs, Noire et blanche (1926), which juxtaposed Kiki’s head with an austerely beautiful Baule-style portrait mask from the Cote d’Ivoire. The mask belonged to George Sakier, an American who grew up near Man Ray in Brooklyn and was employed as a junior art director at French Vogue, in which the photograph first appeared. The Paris smart set loved African sculpture. (Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon [1907] was an early instance of artists’ infatuation with the treasures contained in the Trocadéro ethnographic museum. Indeed, by this time, advanced taste had moved on from African to Oceanic sculpture.) Man Ray made many variants of his composition, including negative versions in which Kiki’s pale face became black. In the picture Vogue published, which is one of the strongest, he coupled ­Kiki’s horizontal head, resting on a table—eyes closed, lips painted, eyebrows drawn long, skin powdered white—with the upright mask held in her hand. Over the years, the picture has acquired layers of meaning as a commentary on race and colonialism. For Man Ray, though, politics was incidental to the formal likenesses that joined a woman à la mode to primeval myths.6 In Montparnasse, Kiki’s exuberant personality and lack of inhibitions had made her a celebrity. As Hemingway later wrote in an introduction to her memoir, “She certainly dominated that era of Montparnasse more than Queen Victoria ever dominated the Victorian era.”7 She wore no underpants (some said it was so she could urinate freely on the terraces of cafés that failed to provide bathrooms for women), and one of her crowdpleasing stunts was to place a hat on her head sideways and pull up her skirt to impersonate Napoleon, with her white legs resembling his breeches. Mixing knowingness with childlike insouciance, she sang ribald ditties to such acclaim that, a couple

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of years after meeting Man Ray, she started performing regularly at the newly established Jockey Club. Man Ray raised no objections. Disliking late-night boîtes, he instead devoted himself to efforts that have kept Kiki’s legend alive. He photographed her innumerable times, usually in the nude. It was Kiki’s breasts, banded by light and shadow, that appear at the conclusion of Le Retour à la raison. Kiki is featured as well in his next film, Emak Bakia, which he made in 1926 at the behest of a wealthy American couple, Arthur and Rose Wheeler, at their country house in Biarritz. (The title of the film, which was also the name of their estate, means “leave me alone” in Euskara, the Basque language.) Arthur Wheeler had visited Man Ray to commission a portrait of his wife and became determined to finance the artist’s next film. He provided ten thousand dollars, a vast sum at that time (half went to purchase a top-of-the-line 35mm movie camera). Man Ray deputized Berenice Abbott to run the photography studio during his absence from Paris. Although other avant-garde films had been produced in the three years since his last movie (notably, Fernand Leger’s Ballet mécanique, which includes footage of Kiki shot by Man Ray), Emak Bakia at sixteen minutes is an extension, not a departure, from his maiden effort. Like Le Retour à la raison, it contains celluloid photograms and nighttime illuminations, some of them taken from that earlier film and professionally printed in 35mm. Adding to the feeling of hallucinatory movement and dislocation, Man Ray used distorting mirrors and revolving turntables to send forms dancing across the screen. He intercut this abstract footage with scenes of Rose Wheeler doing the Charleston and driving and exiting her automobile, and of the debonair Dada poet Jacques Rigaut dressing in drag and emptying a valise of detachable shirt collars. But the most remarkable moment comes at the end, when Kiki is seen wide-eyed and smiling— until she opens her eyes, and the viewer realizes that her eyelids 76

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have been convincingly painted to resemble eyeballs. It is both a coup de cinéma and a clever expression of the Surrealist devotion to the waking dream-state. Even wittier is the image that constitutes Man Ray’s most alluring depiction of Kiki—and his most renowned photograph. Le Violon d’Ingres (1924) plays off a French idiom. Because the great nineteenth-century painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres practiced the violin as a pastime, the phrase violon d’Ingres is synonymous with “hobby.” It’s unclear how Man Ray, still a newcomer to the language, came across this recondite expression, but it sent his quick mind spinning. Like Ingres, he regarded himself as a painter; for him, photography was the hobby. Dressing Kiki in a turban that evoked the female figures in Ingres’s paintings La Grande Baigneuse (also known as the Valpinçon Bather) and The Turkish Bath, he posed her with bare back and concealed arms. Her voluptuous body, with its curvaceous posterior, to Man Ray resembled a violin or cello. In the darkroom, he covered a sheet of printing paper with a stencil in which he had cut out the forms of the f-holes. He exposed that to light, much as he did when making a rayograph. Removing the stencil, he superimposed the negative of Kiki, so that the f-holes are burned onto her back. (For future prints, instead of going to that trouble, he copied the original.)8 With mid-gray tones and moody lighting, the finished picture is redolent of Ingres’s historical moment—but in concept, it is at the cutting edge of its time. Beyond the cutting edge were the pornographic photographs that Man Ray made of Kiki and himself engaged in sex, as explicitly revealing of their genitals as the Made in Heaven sequence that Jeff Koons scandalously staged with his then wife, the Italian porn star Ilona Staller, nearly three quarters of a century later. Man Ray would take erotic pictures throughout his career—he was especially fond of lesbian poses—but these are the only known examples in which he played a part himself. 77

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There are four pictures, each denoted with a season. Unlike the Koons depictions, the only one in the Man Ray group that is personally identifiable is the shot of fellatio (Autumn), with ­Kiki’s unmistakable painted lips. Man Ray was once asked, as part of the Surrealist investigation of erotic proclivities, to name the sex act that he favored. “No preferences,” he replied. “What intrigues me most is fellation of the man by the woman, because that’s the thing that has happened to me most rarely.”9 In this series, he was catholic, also portraying vaginal and anal intercourse. For the fourth in the sequence, he distanced the camera to reveal the back and buttocks of the man on top— who, while not recognizable as was Kiki, must have been the artist, who was, after all, her lover. When he took these pictures is uncertain. He kept them in a drawer until 1929, when the Surrealist poets Louis Aragon and Benjamin Peret asked if he had anything to illustrate the off-color poems they had written, which were to be published in Belgium in a one-off issue of a magazine with the up-to-date name, 1929. He had just the thing. The issues of the magazine were confiscated as obscene by the customs agents at the border, which appears to have been the intention of the poets. Certainly, the pictures were dated, because by 1929 they were a souvenir. The love affair had ended. Kiki, persuaded that her colorful stories merited publication as a memoir, began a collaboration in 1928 with a journalist named Henri Broca. She was not one to separate business and romance. The young American Julien Levy, who would later become an art dealer, recalled in his own memoir that he tried to produce a movie in 1927 and asked Kiki to act in it. Only if he slept with her, she replied. When he refused out of allegiance to his fiancée, she retorted that he was not an homme, he was an hommelette. With that outlook, it was predictable that, once Kiki started working with Broca, an affair ensued. As the relationship with Man Ray had been fading, she took her chance to move in with this new 78

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lover. But Broca was mentally unstable. After he began acting bizarrely and violently, she had him institutionalized in March 1930, loyally visiting him at the hospital until he returned to his family in Bordeaux and suffered an early death. Kiki then took up with a tax collector who sidelined as an accordionist. She would sing along to accompany him. In this less glamorous life, she grew dependent on alcohol and cocaine, and she put on weight. She saw far less of Man Ray, who was frequently traveling outside of Paris in the thirties. During the war, while he was living in Los Angeles, they didn’t see each other at all. But not long after his return to Paris, he was in a restaurant when he heard a familiar laugh coming from the bar. It had been thirteen years, but of course he recognized the voice. He crossed over and Kiki shrieked with delight at the sight, throwing herself into his arms. She was living alone by then, in poor health and short on cash. He insisted on giving her some money and asked what else he could do. She said she needed nothing. In happier days, she had laughed when he urged her to set aside money for the future. “But my dear, I don’t give a damn,” she said. “All I need is an onion, a bit of bread and a bottle of red, and I will always find somebody to offer me that.”10 They saw each other on a few more occasions, and then she entered the hospital for the last time. She was only fiftyone at her death. Her funeral in the spring of 1953 brought out all the old denizens of Montparnasse, paying tribute to this legendary muse and, of course, to their own vanished youth. The café proprietors of the Sixth Arrondissement paid for her burial in the Cimitière du Montparnasse. Her gravestone reads: “Kiki, 1901–1953, singer, actress, painter, Queen of Montparnasse.” Man Ray reflected bitterly that Kiki had been neglected by her former friends. Only when it was too late to do her any good was she toasted once more.

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9 André Breton and Paul Éluard

Man Ray was a Dadaist before he left New York. And in Paris, as Dada flickered out, his evolution into Surrealism was effortless. The distinction between the two movements is hard to pinpoint. In place of Dada’s anarchic absurdity, which reveled in negation, Surrealism proposed a philosophy of life that glorified the sudden, ecstatic, and erotic jolt. The difference in the approaches is best understood as an extension of the personalities of their chief proponents: the upstart Tzara versus the doctrinaire Breton. Tzara detested programs and congresses; Breton relished them. Tzara flouted authority; Breton exerted it. Even as Surrealism exalted the irrational impulse, it erected institutions to repress and supplant the madcap manifestations of Dada. Because Man Ray’s impulses were anarchic, he naturally sympathized with the Dada prankster over the Pope of Surrealism. The only time he openly took sides, however, was after

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Breton publicly condemned Tzara for not joining the organizing committee for the so-called Congress of Paris, which Breton called early in 1922 to examine the state of modern art. Man Ray had been among the sizable group of artistic insiders who endorsed the congress. Now, after Breton’s characteristically ill-­ tempered mockery of Tzara in the press, Man Ray joined with most of his fellows on February 22 to censure Breton. In the wake of this mass defection, the proposed congress collapsed. Breton, who resembled Danton in his style of action as well as in his leonine head, angrily excommunicated several of the renegades, but he did not take action against Man Ray. It is hard to say which was more remarkable, the American’s inclusion among the congress’s initial backers, six months after his arrival in Paris, in a group that included Picasso, Matisse, Brancusi, and Cocteau; or his light-footed ability to avoid being denounced (or, often enough in this hot-tempered crowd, punched). “André Breton . . . he always intimidated me a little,” Man Ray recalled. As he explained it, Breton “made the law among us, and I didn’t much like being led by the nose. However, I accepted Breton in all that he did. I had confidence in him. I hope that confidence was reciprocated.”1 It was. As already noted, Breton published Man Ray’s photograph of “dust breeding” in Littérature in October 1922; and his drawing of a top hat adorned the cover of the magazine the previous March and for a couple of subsequent numbers. Man Ray also received cover billing on the first issue of Breton’s postLittérature magazine, La Révolution surréaliste, in December 1924, which featured as the frontispiece The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse, his tribute to Lautréamont, the Surrealist saint. He was included in the first exhibition of Surrealist art, held in November 1925 at the Galerie Pierre. When the Galerie Surréaliste opened in March 1926, its inaugural exhibition was devoted to paintings and photographs by Man Ray, shown in combination with Oceanic sculpture; some of these works had appeared in Man Ray’s 81

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1921 Dadaist show at Librairie Six, but few people remembered and none cared. “Breton once called me a pre-Surrealist,” the artist commented later.2 Breton arranged for Jacques Doucet, the couturier for whom he acted as art consultant, to buy a painting and three photographs (including Woman Smoking a Cigarette for two hundred francs) from Man Ray. He respected Man Ray as a uniquely ambidextrous artist. In 1925, he wrote in Surrealism and Painting that photography’s ability to reproduce the material world with absolute fidelity challenged painting to justify its reason for being, so that “it was almost necessary for someone to come forward who should be not only an accomplished technician of photography but also an outstanding painter.”3 Such an artist could push photography to intrude into territory that painting claimed as its exclusive province. “It was the great good fortune of Man Ray to be that man,” Breton declared.4 Man Ray called the collection of twelve of his rayographs, which appeared in 1922 in an edition of forty, Les Champs délicieux. The title was a tip of the hat to Les Champs magnétiques, a collaboration of automatic writing by Breton and Soupault that came out two years earlier and inaugurated the Surrealist movement in spirit if not yet in name. Despite its title, Les Champs délicieux, for which Tzara wrote an introduction, was a Dadaist not a Surrealist collection. Rayographs erased the conventions of image representation, but they did not conjure up the erotic and the unconscious. Photography—with its instantaneous production and incorporation of chance—held a natural advantage over painting in a Surrealist universe that celebrated the fleeting, fortuitous encounter and employed automatic writing as a portal into the repressed mind. Of course, not all photographs are composed in a moment. For instance, one of the Man Ray pictures in the first issue of La Révolution surréaliste depicts two ghostly male hands (Duchamp’s) crossing on the curved wooden back of a 82

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chair; it was made by superimposing glass-plate negatives in the darkroom. Even so, like any photograph, it trades on the documentary aura that surrounds the medium. More than half a century before W. G. Sebald, Breton recognized that by embedding banal photographs as concrete fragments—rather like the pieces of newspaper that Picasso and Braque used in their collages—he might blur the gap between the subject and its representation. In his book Nadja, published in 1928, he incorporated into the text forty-four images, including photographic portraits by Man Ray and streetscapes by Jacques-André Boif­ fard, who was Man Ray’s assistant at the time, to lend the texture of a factual narrative to a book that strikes an ambiguous tone between high-flying literature and clinical case study. Cinema—a sequence of images that unfold over time—lent itself to the Surrealist glorification of the dreamlike state. Man Ray made only a few films after the Dada experiment of Le Retour à la raison. The hybrid Emak Bakia of 1926 began with Dada rayographs and ended with dreamy Surrealist footage. By the time he made his next movie, L’Etoile de mer, in 1928, he was dispensing undiluted Surrealism. Man Ray based L’Etoile de mer on a poem by Robert Desnos, a writer whose ability to enter a trance-like sleep and, afterward, recall his visions aroused the appreciative awe of Breton, who placed him (until the two men had the inevitable falling out) at the center of the Surrealist movement. Before leaving on a trip to Cuba in February 1928, Desnos, joined by the Belgian singer Yvonne George, who was his lover at the time, came for a farewell dinner given by Man Ray and Kiki. He read a poem that consisted of a series of images without a storyline. Man Ray found the invoked pictures “hallucinatory.” He told Desnos. “Robert, I am going to make a film. Your text will be my scenario.”5 By the time Desnos returned three months later, the movie was done. In L’Etoile de mer, the camera follows a woman selling news83

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papers and a man carrying a starfish in a glass jar, as they meet and make an erotic connection on a Paris street. Back in her apartment, she undresses on a bed, at which point he turns and leaves. The contracting tentacles and sinister orifice of the starfish and the portentous intertitles, which allude to a woman’s teeth (while the camera regards her thighs) and the cult of Cybèle (notorious for genital self-mutilation), all evoke Freud’s musings on castration anxiety.6 “Undoubtedly a symbol, but I don’t know of what,” Man Ray remarked of the starfish.7 Further clouding the mystery of what is happening in L’Etoile de mer, Man Ray shot much of the film through pieces of wavy stained-glass, hoping to achieve the distortion of an Impressionist painting. L’Etoile de mer benefits from its fragmentation and, literally, its obscurity. This becomes apparent upon viewing the last of Man Ray’s completed films, Les Mystères du château de Dé, which unfolds with studied clarity in the style of a Réné Magritte painting. In 1929, at the urging of the Vicomte Charles de Noailles, who with his wife, Marie-Laure, was an important patron of avant-garde art, Man Ray went with his assistant, Boiffard, to make a movie at the new modernist house that Robert Mallet-Stevens had designed for the Noailles in Hyères in the south of France. The blocky structure featured rectangular windows, which may have reminded Man Ray of dice and conjured up the line from Mallarmé that provides the film’s inscription: “A toss of the dice will never abolish chance.” The faces of the amateur actors in Les Mystères du château de Dé are masked in cloth, much like the man and woman kissing in Magritte’s painting Les Amants, the first version of which was produced a year previously. In the scenes set in Paris, before the masked travelers arrive at the château, the mood is ominous. That fades, and once in Hyères, the action comes to resemble a present-day video advertising a real estate property. The movie is a flyaway trifle, especially when compared with 84

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two other films that the vicomte financed at that time, Luis Buñuel’s inflammatory L’Age d’or, which provoked a scandal upon its screening and is regarded as a classic now, and Cocteau’s debut, Le Sang d’un poète. In these days before everyone owned a camera, well in advance of the postwar passion for making home movies, the desire to appear in such films was strong among the wealthy and the social, a sort of parlor game that produced a souvenir. At another country house in the south of France, this one belonging to Lise Deharme, who for many years frustrated the sexual advances of a besotted Breton, Man Ray brought along a movie camera on a holiday in the summer of 1935. Breton, his infatuation with the former Lise Meyer having cooled into friendship once she became Madame Deharme, was there as well, with his new wife, Jacqueline Lamba, an aspiring painter who made her living as an underwater nude dancer in a music hall. Breton had married her the previous summer, less than three months after they met in a café, and Man Ray had memorialized the occasion in a photograph that restaged Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe: Lamba undressed to take the role of the model, along with the two soberly attired marriage witnesses, Alberto Giacometti and Paul Éluard. (By year’s end, Breton had renounced Giacometti.) Éluard, then Breton’s closest friend, was married a week later. With his wife, Maria Benz, a beautiful young Alsatian woman known as “Nusch” he’d met as a pickup on the street, Éluard rounded out the house party at Lise Deharme’s. It was a congenial group, but Man Ray’s camera kept jamming. He posed Breton reading by a window, with a dragon­ fly on his forehead; although Breton was a terrible actor, by the end of the take his fury was genuine—making the best moment in the movie. But burdened with the recalcitrant camera, Man Ray abandoned the project, salvaging only seven stills. Éluard—who, like Man Ray, invented a name to replace the one (Eugène Grindel) he was born with—became the American 85

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artist’s best friend among the Surrealists. “Of the whole group, for me Éluard was the man who was most human,” Man Ray explained, “the one who knew how to mix in all kinds of settings and to get on with all kinds of people.”8 Maybe he was all too human. When it came to romance, Éluard had a complicated history, even by the standards of this sexually convoluted group. It was his ill fortune to fall in love with Elena Ivanovna Diakonova, a volatile Russian known as Gala, at a Swiss tuberculosis sanatorium, when they were both seventeen. In 1917, they married. And then, in 1922, the couple spent a summer holiday with the Surrealist artist Max Ernst, his wife, and infant son; and during that time Gala and Max began an affair. Although Ernst’s outraged wife ended their marriage, Éluard took it in stride. He, Ernst, and Gala lived as a trio. Perhaps he suffered more than he let on. In March 1924, he embezzled seventeen thousand francs from his father’s real estate firm, which employed him, and he disappeared for a year. His anxious Surrealist friends feared suicide. When he reemerged in October, their relief was mixed with irritation upon learning he had been on a round-the-world voyage, with Gala secretly informed of his whereabouts since May. In Paris, Éluard returned to his ménage-à-trois, which lasted until Ernst, having fallen in love with a younger woman, ended his relationship with Gala in early 1927. Éluard’s reaction was to cool his friendship with Ernst. Demonstrating that he had learned nothing about the perils of family holidays, Éluard traveled to the fishing village of Cadaquès in Spain in the summer of 1929 with Gala and their young daughter, Cécile, to see the high-strung, exquisite Spanish artist Salvador Dalí, who on a visit to Paris that March had issued invitations to various Surrealist luminaries. Almost instantly, Dalí and Gala became mutually and madly enamored. Their bond would endure for the rest of Dalí’s life, and unlike Gala’s prior loves, it took precedence over all others. Even though he began his own affair with Nusch the following May, 86

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Éluard greeted Gala’s request for a divorce in the summer of 1930 with anguished dismay. The compensation was that professionally, at least, he thrived on anguish. He had achieved his artistic breakthrough in 1926 with the publication of his poetry collection Capital of Pain, and he released in 1929 another wellreviewed book, L’Amour la poésie. “Éluard was the only one of us for whom the critics, for some time, had had only praise,” Breton later recalled, a little resentfully.9 Man Ray collaborated with Éluard on two books. The first, Facile, which appeared in 1935, coupled his nude photographs of Nusch with Éluard’s love poems. Nusch was a beautiful and compliant model whom Man Ray photographed often, sometimes posed erotically with another woman. The second collaboration, two years later, was for Man Ray more of a departure. Breaking out of the pattern of publishing books of photography, he produced a collection of drawings derived in echt-Surrealist fashion from his dreams. What’s more, he reversed the conventional relationship between text and image by having Éluard write poems that would illustrate the art. Even so, this artist, who often decried the compromises of collaboration, created his most lasting Surrealist images not with Breton or Éluard, but on his own. The images of Nusch are beautiful. They do not, however, fit the definition that Breton delivered in the famous last line of Nadja: “Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.” Closer to the mark is a photograph Man Ray made around 1930, Anatomies, of a woman’s neck and chin viewed from an extreme lower vantage point, so that they resemble the shaft and glans of an erect penis. A comparable transformation of a woman into the image of a male occurs in Minotaure (1934), where the torso of a naked woman takes on the appearance of a bull, her arms curved up like horns and her nipples poking out like eyes, while her head remains invisible, all moodily lit with heavy shadows, against an inky black background. (The mythological Minotaur was half human, half beast, 87

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and became a kind of mascot for Breton’s movement.) Surrealistically beautiful, too, is a photograph from the same period, Larmes, of a woman’s eyes and nose (there are different versions, but the close-cropped ones are the most effective) with glass beads falling like tears. Man Ray created the photographic equivalent of automatic writing in 1935, in a ravishing series of pictures he called Space Writing; setting the camera shutter for a long exposure and waving a penlight in front of his face, he made self-portraits in which a graffiti-like scrawl of illuminated lines seems to emanate from his head. Also in the early 1930s, he produced a picture called Explosante-fixe, of a flamenco dancer whose ruffled dress is blurred in the gyrations of her dance. The title stems from Breton’s L’Amour fou, his book that followed Nadja, which was illustrated with Man Ray photographs, and included an elaboration on convulsive beauty that stated, in part, that it would be “fixed-explosive.” Who could better capture such beauty than a photographer whose camera shutter froze movement? In a photograph, an explosion could indeed be fixed.

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10 Lee Miller

Lee Miller traveled to Paris in 1929 in search of Man Ray. But when she called at his studio at 31 bis rue Campagne-­ Première, the concierge informed her that hélas, the man she sought had just departed for his summer holiday. What to do? She retreated to a nearby bar, the Bateau Ivre, that was known to be favored by Man Ray, and sat upstairs drinking with the sympathetic Russian proprietor. All of a sudden he said, “Why, there’s Man Ray.” Coming up the iron spiral staircase she saw a head, then a chest, and finally the entire man. The patron introduced him, and Man Ray asked her, “What is your name?” “My name is Lee Miller, and I’m your new student.” “I don’t have students,” he replied. What is more, he told her, he was about to leave for Biarritz. “So am I,” she said.1 Thus began the most intense romantic and professional re-

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lationship of Man Ray’s life. Almost thirty-nine, he was entering middle age, in possession of the success he had dreamed of in New York, even if it hadn’t arrived quite as he envisioned. He still saw himself as chiefly a painter, but he had built his reputation and his bank account as a photographer. He was in high demand for his fashion photography, appearing regularly in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Charm, and Harper’s Bazaar. His elegant suits were custom-tailored. He lit his cigarettes with a Dunhill lighter. He drove a sleek aluminum Voisin automobile. He was a connoisseur of food and wine, and he ate in the best restaurants. Lee was just starting out. She was twenty-two, blonde, and as beautiful as a model. Indeed, she was a model, a favorite of Steichen at Vogue. As with much of her life, the career resulted from an implausible combination of luck and pluck. She had been crossing the street in Manhattan when a man pulled her out of the way of an oncoming car. Awaking from a faint, she found that her savior was none other than Condé Nast, the owner of Vogue. He offered her a modeling job. Even before that, she was an amateur model, frequently posing in the nude for her father, a business executive in Poughkeepsie, New York, and a photography enthusiast. She continued posing nude for him into her twenties. That was unconventional, most would say ill-advised. Indisputably traumatic, however, was the violence that marred her childhood. At the age of seven, Elizabeth was raped by a relative of friends of her parents, whom she was visiting in Brooklyn, and infected with gonorrhea—which, before the introduction of antibiotics, required lengthy and invasive treatments. To all appearances, the young woman Man Ray met was completely golden. Many years later, the shattering psychic crack would surface, as she descended into alcoholic despair. In 1929, Lee (at about this time, she made the change from “Elizabeth” to a gender-ambiguous name) traveled to Florence, where she had an assignment to copy dress ornamentation in 90

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Renaissance portraits as research for Condé Nast magazine stylists. She then planned to settle in Paris—a city where she had studied art four years before—and continue working as a fashion model. But in the course of tediously drawing elaborate lace and ribbons, she realized that she could do the job more efficiently with a camera. In much the way that Man Ray had come to photography through documenting his paintings in New York, Miller made photo-reproductions of the Old Masters in Florence. By the time she reached Paris, she no longer wanted to model. She aimed to be a photographer. As Man Ray’s assistant and lover, she operated on both sides of the camera. When modeling, like Kiki she compliantly followed his directions. And while she never indulged him by acting out pornographic scenarios, she inherited from Kiki the role of Woman, that bewitching muse of Surrealist artists. At times, she stepped into a specific scenario that Kiki had originated. Substituting Lee’s nude torso for Kiki’s, Man Ray restaged the striking image that occurs near the end of Le Retour à la raison, where striped shadows play over a woman’s bare breasts. Lee’s breasts were so frequently depicted by Man Ray, and as a result so widely esteemed, that a glass company molded a Champagne goblet in their shape. Her navel, which also appears often in Man Ray’s pictures, was proclaimed by Time to be “the most beautiful navel in Paris.” (Her father’s irate letter to the editor resulted in a published apology.) Man Ray was inspired by every part of the female anatomy. In La Prière (The Prayer), 1930, he had a woman kneel down and cup her naked buttocks with her hands, her interlaced fingers covering her anus. (Although it was long thought to be Lee, according to a recent critic the photo contact sheets reveal that it was the posterior of another model, working with Miller and Man Ray.)2 His title impudently compared this supplicant sexual posture to a Christian appeal. Even more blatant is Monument à D.A.F. de Sade (1933), a tribute to the patron saint 91

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of sodomy, which appeared as an illustration in Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution, the successor to La Révolution surréaliste that Breton founded during his infatuation with Communism. Here Man Ray took another photograph of shapely buttocks and drew on it an inverted cross that frames the cleft and, with its abstractly phallic form, also possesses it. The previously discussed Anatomies, a disorienting view of a woman’s neck, is a rhapsody to Lee (it is her neck) that is likewise transformed into a phallic thrust. Unlike Kiki, whose artistic ambitions were channeled into a charming style of primitive painting, Lee devoted herself to photography, learning from Man Ray the technique of portraiture and fashion shoots. She joked that she would “rather take a picture than be one.”3 As his assistant (he was accurate in telling her that he didn’t take students—instead he employed assistants), she became proficient in his cubbyhole darkroom at developing glass-plate negatives and making prints. He taught her as well the more technical secrets of lighting, which he had acquired over the years. His way of seeing the world influenced her own. She absorbed the stratagem of off-kilter posing, the Surrealist trick of inverting the body or isolating parts of it so that this most familiar of subjects looks alien. Man Ray used lighting as well as angles and cropping to disorient a viewer. Some of the effectiveness of La Prière results from the way the body is illu­ minated, so that the back fades away in darkness, leaving the rounded buttocks, marmoreal as a rifted boulder, in splendid isolation. Miller applied these stratagems of framing and lighting, too, so that in one of her photographs, the shoulders and hips of a softly lit nude become strange terrain. She brought that Surrealist vision to landscape photography later in the decade. Man Ray, too, sought out the strange and uncanny when photographing the landscape: for example, the birdlike rock near Cadaquès (used earlier by Buñuel in L’Age 92

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d’Or).4 In this domain she surpassed her mentor. With a few exceptions, the outdoor pictures that Man Ray made (a relatively barren source of inspiration for him) were less original than hers, especially those she produced in the Middle East: the shadow of the Great Pyramid falling over a settled plain; the desert and sky seen through a torn hole in netting; tracks of sand that undulate in parallel like giant worms; a tilted rock that reminded her of a turgid penis. Man Ray encouraged her prowess as a photographer. It was the turgid penises that distressed him. Far younger and comelier than her famous lover, Lee attracted the amorous attention of suitors, both men her own age and also the older men she usually preferred (maybe because they reminded her of her father, who would remain the most adored male figure of her life). Having juggled lovers as a model in New York, she saw no reason to change her ways in Paris, an even more sexually liberated city. In principle, Man Ray approved; but emotionally, he suffered. A year after meeting, they attended a summer party that exposed the tension. Man Ray was asked to create a visual divertissement for a White Ball that the Comte and Comtesse Pecci-Blunt were hosting at their Paris townhouse. He came up with the notion of deploying the guests, dressed in white and dancing on a raised white platform in the garden, as a screen for film projection. He found pieces of secondhand movies to run, and he set up the projector on the top floor. Lee was charged with helping him operate the equipment. That is not how the night unfolded. Fetchingly attired in a tennis outfit she had borrowed from the couturier Madeleine Vionnet, Lee accepted nonstop invitations to dance from, in her words, “lots of handsome young men.”5 Man Ray fretted. As he later admitted, he didn’t mind doing the work alone. What bothered him was “jealousy.”6 In the studio, they collaborated smoothly. Their interplay 93

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was so seamless that, looking back, she often could not determine who took a particular picture. For some of the joint efforts where she modeled, including a limited-edition brochure distributed to favored clients of the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d’Electricité in 1931, Miller may well have contributed to the concepts and the photographs that are credited to Man Ray alone. Indeed, Man Ray’s chief innovation during their partnership, in 1929, bears joint authorship. Like rayograms, the process that he dubbed “solarization” originated ostensibly as a flub. In this instance, Miller initiated the accident, although what precisely occurred is a bit uncertain. In one interview, she placed the blame on an electrical short. In another, she said that while she was developing in the darkroom, something—she thought it was probably a mouse—ran over her foot and, in a fright, she turned on the light for a moment. Whatever the cause, both Miller and Man Ray thought the negatives, which were almost developed, had been ruined by the light. He plunged the glass plates immediately in the fixer bath of hypo to stop the process, but he didn’t hold out much hope. Exacerbating the disaster, the model—Suzy Solidor, a beautiful blonde who was the kept woman of a wealthy lesbian and later became a renowned cabaret singer—had left Paris. They couldn’t reshoot. But when they examined the frames of nude Suzy posed against a black wall, they saw not a botch but a revelation. Along with overexposing the wall and the skin, the burst of light had left a thick black outline (white on the negative) where the figure and the background met, as if drawn by a wax crayon. Solarization had been recognized under a less evocative name (the “Sabattier effect”) since the mid-nineteenth century, but it hadn’t been harnessed as an artistic tool. Even though Miller proclaimed that she was the one who serendipitously stumbled upon it, she credited Man Ray with figuring out “how to control it and make it come out exactly the way he wanted to 94

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each time.”7 Once again, he meshed obsessive experimentation with an artist’s eye. He eventually devised a reasonably reliable system. Using a normally developed negative, he would make a print on a soft-contrast paper and then rephotograph it to create a second print on high-contrast paper. The solarization would take place during the second printing, when he interrupted the process, sponged off the chemicals, turned on a white light in the darkroom for a few seconds, and allowed the image to emerge for one or two minutes before fixing. He would use that as a paper negative to produce a final print on matte bromide paper. “The technique in itself was not important to me,” Man Ray said. “I was interested only in the result . . . what I seek above all is to escape from banality, and here was a chance to produce a photograph that would not look like a photograph.”8 In a solarized portrait, the black outline of the head and shoulders against a misty gray backdrop could make the photograph resemble a collage, in which the figure had been cut out and pasted to a blank page. “I could obtain the same results photographically, I didn’t have to use collages to obtain the same effects,” he remarked.9 Some of Man Ray’s best solarized portraits are of Lee. Others are of calla lilies. As the French word for lily (although not for a calla lily) is lys, pronounced lee, these may be regarded as surrogate portraits of her. In solarization, the artifice can become so obtrusive that it overshadows the subject. But the process is one way of repositioning photography out of a faithful documentation into a more aesthetic realm. And when a portrait subject has a clear, distinctive profile—two of the people closest to Man Ray, Miller and Duchamp, were so blessed—the technique produces an image as lustrous and adamantine as a cameo. Paradoxically, solarization could be used to render hardness fluid. One of Man Ray’s signal images is The Primacy of Matter over Thought, which he made in 1929, the year he began using the process. True to his philosophy, the technique is ap95

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plied to express a concept. “I would photograph an idea rather than an object, and a dream rather than an idea,” he said.10 Starting with a photograph of a nude woman lying supine on the floor, he extended the contours of her body so she seems to liquefy. It was another way of dissolving the female figure, as he had overlaid banded shadows on Kiki (and would repeat with Lee). In this instance, the woman’s eyes are closed, one leg is bent and her right hand grasps her breast. He appears to have preceded the solarization of the print by heating parts of the negative emulsion to create a puddle he could then outline. Into it, the model’s head and the left side of her body are melting— making it an intriguing pendant to Dalí’s painting The Great Masturbator of the same year, in which Dalí blended a woman’s head into an undulating form that was inspired by a famous rock formation on the Costa Brava. However rewarding their artistic collaboration, Miller’s chief impact on Man Ray’s art came through the infliction of the agony of lost love. Their relationship began to unravel less than two years after it began. “I have loved you terrificly, jealously; it has reduced every other passion in me, and to compensate, I have tried to justify this love by giving you every chance in my power to bring out everything interesting in you,” he wrote, during one of his spasms of anxiety at her infatuation with another man. “The more you seemed capable the more my love was justified, and the less I regretted any lost effort on my part.” But now, he felt, under the “illusion” of freeing herself from being his “accessory,” she was looking to his rivals. “I have tried to make of you a complement to myself, but these distractions have made you waver, lose confidence in yourself, and so you want to go by yourself to reassure yourself,” he assessed.11 Despite his attempts and his protestations, Man Ray couldn’t accept Miller’s social and sexual independence. A man of his time, he failed to grasp that she might outgrow a subordinate role as his complement. He seethed when she agreed to appear as a statue 96

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in Cocteau’s Le Sang d’un poète, although whether his anger was motivated by a desire to sidestep the ongoing quarrel between Breton and Cocteau or by a simmering jealousy is unclear. At times, his angry possessiveness spilled over into their professional life. Dissatisfied with a photograph he made of her long, elegant neck, he threw the glass negative into the trash and left the studio. Retrieving it, she made multiple prints, manipulating the image until it pleased her. When he returned, she proudly displayed her craftsmanship and claimed the photograph as her own. He declared that the picture was his. The dispute escalated into a furious spat, climaxed by his banishing her from the studio. She came back several days later and saw the photograph tacked to the wall. Man Ray had slashed the neck with a razor and daubed the incision with blood-red ink. The menace of sexual violence flickered over Man Ray’s affair with Miller, as it had throughout his relations with Lacroix and Kiki. What is most disturbing is how accepted this was in his Montparnasse circle. Lautréamont and Sade glorified rape and sexual torture, and the psychoanalytic writings of Surrealist theorists, such as Michel Leiris and Georges Bataille, normalized pain and coercion within erotic pleasure. Sade in particular was a hero of Man Ray, who became acquainted with the libertine philosopher fortuitously, through a neighbor on the rue Campagne-Première: Maurice Heine, the scholar who, among his other contributions, retrieved and published 120 Days of Sodom, the novel that Sade wrote in minuscule handwriting on both sides of a roll of paper while imprisoned in the Bastille. When Heine told him that it was a pity that there was no adult portrait of Sade, Man Ray replied that he would make one. He did. In Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade (1938), he depicts the Bastille burning in the background, while the large bust of Sade that dominates the picture is composed of stone blocks, by inference the rubble remaining when a revolutionary mob destroyed the prison several years after Sade, leaving behind the 97

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manuscript which he mourned as lost, was transferred from his cell. (As it happened, when Man Ray, about three years later, left France under duress, his painting was one of many left behind, and, like Sade, he wrongly believed it had perished.) Early in his relationship with Miller, Man Ray became friendly with William Seabrook, a popular American travel writer on exotic lands who harbored private tastes that were almost as exotic as Sade’s.12 One evening, Seabrook, being obligated to attend with his wife, Marjorie, a banquet in his honor, asked if Man Ray might look in on his duplex hotel room, where a young woman was chained to the newel post of the stairs. Demurring, Man Ray said he had a dinner date with a friend. Bring her along, Seabrook replied, and order meals from room service. Unchaining the nude captive and violating Seabrook’s orders (she was supposed to remain bound and to eat from a dog dish) by inviting her to join them at the table, Man Ray and Miller listened to her stories of whippings for hire at the hands of wealthy sadists. When they left, Miller was unfazed. She told Man Ray that she had known a man who liked to flagellate women. Recounting the tale in his memoir, Man Ray wrote, “I had whipped women a couple of times, but not from any perverse motives.”13 Man Ray photographed Marjorie in sadomasochistic scenes, including one of her fastening pliers to a nude woman’s nipple. At William’s request, he commissioned a jeweler to fabricate a silver ornament that immobilized Marjorie’s neck. The collar was so elegant that she could appear in public without anyone guessing the fetishist’s secret. Man Ray made a portrait of her with it on, looking austere and knowing, her eyes keenly fixed upon something at the side, her shadow looming dark and ominous behind her. Man Ray also photographed Miller in a leather choker with Seabrook standing over her. Miller’s shirt is unbuttoned, her eyes are closed and her mouth is half ajar, in an expression that might denote rapture—or, more likely, amusement. 98

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Miller could abide confinement only as a game. In the winter and spring of 1931, she took a position in London as a second-­ unit director and publicity-stills photographer at Elstree Studios. She was also photographing and modeling for British Vogue. Man Ray wrote her heartsick letters. “You are so young and beautiful and free, and I hate myself for trying to cramp that in you which I admire most, and find so rare in women, or nonexistent?” he wrote, with an interrogatory punctuation mark that betrayed his insecurity.14 He pressed her to live with him as his wife, either with or without the legal formality of marriage. She returned to Paris in August, but not for long. In the city she met Aziz Eloui Bey, an Egyptian businessman, who— together with his languid fashion-plate wife—divided the year between Cairo and France. Eloui Bey owned a house in St. Moritz that was called Villa Nimet (his wife’s name), and in December 1931, a few months after their initial encounter, Miller turned up at the ski resort, mingling with a fashionable crowd that included Charlie Chaplin, whom she had photographed in Paris. A romance burgeoned between Eloui Bey and Miller; but for Miller, love was neither exclusive nor necessarily enduring. Eloui Bey accepted her on the terms she dictated. Older than Man Ray, he was almost twenty years her senior. Far closer to her age—a mere year older—was the American art dealer Julien Levy. When he opened his Madison Avenue gallery, Levy tried to specialize in photography but, like Stieglitz before him, he found it impossible to make a commercial success. Turning quickly to another artistic interest, Levy in January 1932 organized a groundbreaking Surrealism group show, which featured an editioned piece by Man Ray, Boule de neige, or “snowball”: a glass paperweight containing a photograph of Lee’s eye and a quantity of white flakes that obscured it like a snowstorm when shaken. Levy followed the next month with an exhibition of modern European photography. Among the works on display were Man Ray’s solarized portrait of Lee, and 99

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Lee’s photograph, taken from behind, of a woman whose hand rests like a claw on the tightly curled tendrils of her hair. Later that year in Paris, Julien and Lee met for the first time, and promptly embarked on a love affair. He gave her a solo show, the only one of her lifetime, in December. Eloui Bey’s nonproprietary love and Levy’s professional support converged like vectors of energy to free Miller from Man Ray. The fears the artist expressed with the snowball paperweight were realized. Lee was leaving him. In the summer of 1932, he revisited an idea from 1923, in which he had attached a photograph of a woman’s eye to the pendulum of a metronome. He called it Object of Destruction. It was studio furniture (like Duchamp’s bicycle wheel), and an admonishing presence that regulated his brushstrokes as he painted. He replaced the photograph with one of Lee’s eye, and renamed it Object to Be Destroyed. In the September issue of a magazine, he published a drawing of the device with the legend: “Cut out the eye from a photograph of one who has been loved but is seen no more. Attach the eye to the pendulum of a metronome and regulate the weight to suit the tempo desired. Keep going to the limit of endurance. With a hammer well-aimed, try to destroy the whole at a single blow.”15 Lee regarded it as a kind of voodoo doll. As she contemplated marrying Aziz, Lee in the autumn of 1932 closed her Paris studio to move back to New York and open a commercial photography business with her younger brother, Erik. Her departure left Man Ray distraught. On October 11, the day her ship sailed, he sent her a page from his notebook, of a faint, stylized drawing of her face that he had covered with dozens of scrawled notations of her name, “Elizabeth” and “Lee.” He wrote on the back: “Accounts never balance one never pays enough etc etc, love Man.” He folded the page and placed within it a three-by-four-inch print of his photo of her eye, inscribing his name on the bottom rim so delicately that it blends almost invisibly into the lashes. On the other side 100

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of the photograph, he added: “Postscript: Oct. 11, 1932. With an eye always in reserve/Material indestructible. . . . /Forever being put away/Taken for a ride. . . . /Put on the spot. . . . /The racket must go on—/I am always in reserve./MR.”16 That night he ran into an acquaintance, Jacqueline Barsotti Goddard, at the Dôme, and sat down next to her. “I wish I were dead,” he said. He took out a handgun and pounded it on the table. Even though it was raining, she suggested they go for a walk. They stood by the edge of Montparnasse Cemetery and looked up at the windows of Lee’s former studio. Then they went to his studio, where he enlisted her help in staging a photograph that he called Suicide. (It was a title he favored, and he gave it to other images over the span of his career.) In it, he is sitting bare-chested at a table and holding the pistol with his left hand to his temple. A rope is around his neck. A glass of absinthe and a bottle are on the table. He is smoking a cigarette and looking solemnly at an alarm clock in his right hand. “I was terrified because I had no idea if the gun was loaded or if he was actually going to shoot himself,” Goddard recalled more than sixty years later. “Anything could have been possible, he was so distraught and I, myself, was upset.”17 She snapped the picture. Notwithstanding his hysterical state, the photograph is perfectly composed, with the rope cutting with clean precision across the upper part of the black background, and the cigarette pointing downward in alignment with the clock-holding arm.18 In his autobiography, which largely avoids the subject of his relationship with Miller, Man Ray attributed his suicidal depression at this time to an unhealthy lifestyle. He wrote that he was hospitalized for obesity and skin and liver ailments. But he was never obese, and if his liver was bothering him, that was because he was drinking too much to numb his lovesickness. Upon his discharge, he suffered so severely from insomnia that he placed a pistol by his bedside in case the sleeplessness didn’t abate—a precaution that instantly corrected the problem. He 101

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vowed to sober up. “I had resolved never to get myself tied up with one woman for any length of time—continued change in love as well as in diet would keep my mind clear and my body well,” he wrote. “Drink and permanent attachments had been the undoing of many of my friends.” In other words, his addiction to Miller was a sign of weakness, akin to a dependence on alcohol.19 The 1933 color photograph that he chose for the cover of his collection Photographs by Man Ray 1920–1934 testifies to his continuing heartbreak, which contained more than a tinge of self-pity. A grim-looking plaster bust of his head presides over a Surrealist potpourri: his photograph of a female eye weeping glass tears, a wooden hand emerging from a painted polyhedron, and a bilboquet toy. A bilboquet is a ball with a hole that is attached by a string to a cup on a handle, the aim of the game being to catch the ball in the cup—a fine metaphor, as the curator Jennifer Mundy has pointed out, for a man’s sexual pursuit of an elusive woman.20 A discarded trial photograph with many of the same objects dispels any doubt about the erotic mis­ adventure on his mind: it gives central place to a blonde model who resembles Lee, and it places the Object to Be Destroyed metronome in a prominent position.21 Man Ray continued to brood over Lee, transferring his fixation from her eye to her lips. Above his bed he placed an eightfoot-wide canvas that he would work on in his pajamas for a couple of hours every morning before going to his studio. He later (not entirely convincingly) said that he began by depicting Kiki’s mouth, thinking of a lipstick mark she had left on his collar, but then, as he developed the painting, he decided that the shape was too round. He discarded the picture, on which he had labored for six months, and replaced Kiki’s lips with Lee’s, which he modeled on a cropped photograph, like the one of Lee’s eye.22 The painting—his most celebrated—is titled A l’heure de 102

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l’observatoire—Les Amoureux (1932–34). Floating in a mackerel sky is a giant pair of red lips, over a wooded skyline baroquely embellished by the roof of the seventeenth-century observatory that stands to the south of the Jardin du Luxembourg. The lips emanate a ghostly feminine smile; viewed another way, they rest one atop the other like the pressed bodies of lovers. Enigmatic and erotic, the painting is one of the masterpieces of Surrealism. In the now-legendary exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism,” which opened in December 1936 at the Museum of Modern Art, it first hung over the entrance to the show, but after complaints that it was obscene, the museum moved it inside. What better tribute could there be for a work of Surrealism? Miller and Man Ray surmounted the rancor of their breakup. Their close friendship survived to long outlast her Egyptian marriage to Eloui Bey. The expatriate community in Cairo was excruciatingly dull after Paris. Marital security with a generous, loving husband seems to have bored her as well. She increasingly traveled on her own, and in June 1937 she made a visit to Paris. On her first night, Julien Levy invited her to accompany him to a costume ball, and there she saw her old friends from the Surrealist circles, including Man Ray, who embraced her. Max Ernst introduced her to a friend, the English Surrealist painter Roland Penrose, who, like so many before him, instantly succumbed to her allure. Penrose enlisted Ernst to invite her to dinner the next night, and at its close, the cultivated young Englishman and the beautiful, talented American inaugurated a love affair that would lead to wedlock. The marriage endured— often unhappy, but resilient—until her death. From the outset of their relationship, Miller and Penrose would socialize with Man Ray and his current companion. In that period, it was Adrienne Fidelin. Man Ray and Ady joined Lee as part of a group—including Ernst, Leonora Carrington (a brilliant English Surrealist painter for whom Ernst had recently left his wife), and the Éluards—in a visit to Roland that 103

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July at his brother’s house in Cornwall. Later that summer, the two couples vacationed with Picasso, Dora Maar, and the Éluards in Mougins. On returning to Cairo that fall, Miller wrote to Man Ray that she had never been “so miserable leaving or going anywhere—It seemed that all the people in the world that I love were together.”23 Man Ray had evolved in his relationship with Lee from all-consuming love to abiding affection. His new lover, Ady, was a different woman from Lee. As Man Ray wrote to Roland in 1940: “She does everything—from shining my shoes and bringing my breakfast to painting in backgrounds on my large canvases! All to the tune of a beguine or a rhumba.”24 In his art, however, Lee’s presence retains its electric charge, powerful and dangerous. Her lips are a recurring motif in Man Ray’s paintings. As Europe lurched toward war in the late 1930s, he created The Wall (1938), which depicts the jagged shadows, luridly cast onto a pink wall, of a man pursuing a woman. A thundercloud in the sky is a scallop-edged variant of the lips in A l’heure de l’observatoire—Les Amoureux. The next year, he produced a more complex work, ironically titled Le Beau Temps, or “Fair Weather.” It incorporates many images from earlier paintings—a tailor’s manikin, a billiard table, mathematical drawings, and a stone wall. One of the two main figures is a disarticulated harlequin cut through at the waist by a red shape that is yet another representation of Lee’s mouth. Within a year of the completion of Le Beau Temps, Man Ray conceded that the political weather had turned menacingly foul and he fled German-occupied France for America. Lee, who sneered at the notion of safety, stayed in Europe. Although she continued to work for Vogue, her attention shifted from fashion to the war. Unlike Man Ray, who avoided world history with the same allergic aversion he showed for his personal history, Miller rose to the challenges of photojournalism brilliantly. Her portrayal of the London blitz conveys a Surrealist’s appre104

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ciation of the absurdity of the horror—the arbitrariness of what is spared in the general destruction, the accidentally evocative pileups of debris. When she followed the Allied forces into Germany, however, she photographed two liberated concentration camps, where the horror admitted no leavening of wit. Especially searing are her portraits of the guards brutalized or slain by the freed inmates. She also documented the suicides of Nazis in German cities, who killed themselves before they could be captured. The conclusion of the war ended, for the most part, Mil­ ler’s photography career. She moved with Roland and their son, Antony, to a farmhouse in East Sussex, where she took on the roles of wife and mother with notably less brio. She became a dedicated hostess and cook, rechanneling her professional ambitions into writing about the kitchen arts. Antony, who had a troubled relationship with his mother but became her sympathetic biographer following her death, recalled that one of the few things that reliably lifted Lee out of alcoholic depression was a visit from Man Ray.

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11 Meret Oppenheim

Meret Oppenheim’s innovative and productive artistic career spanned half a century, yet she is primarily known for two things: a cup, saucer, and spoon she covered with fur, and a series of photographs by Man Ray for which she modeled in the nude. Surrealism at its best, these works are sexy and witty, and so they have overshadowed her other achievements. Man Ray helped perpetuate that reductive misconception. When he discussed her (briefly) in his memoir, he recalled only these two accomplishments, and both played second fiddle in his mind to the glorious cadenza of her sexual liberation. Oppenheim, he declared, was “one of the most uninhibited women I have ever met.”1 She had come to Paris, like so many others, in search of freedom, arriving in May 1932, at age eighteen, in the company of a slightly older female friend. She went home to Switzerland after a few months but returned in the fall, determined this time to stay. Unlike Man Ray, for whom Paris became a permanent,

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congenial home, Oppenheim sojourned there for a few years without laying down roots. She would spend most of her life in Switzerland, although it might be argued that she never truly settled there, either. She was temperamentally unsettled. Oppenheim was born in Berlin ten months before the outbreak of World War I, and spent the war years with her mother in the home of her Swiss maternal grandparents in Bern canton. After the war, her father, a German-Jewish doctor who had been drafted into the army, established a medical practice in southern Germany and brought his family there. Meret continued to spend much time in Switzerland, where she was deeply influenced by her grandmother, a prominent children’s book illustrator and feminist. Her biographers marvel at how fitting was her unusual first name. Meretlein is a child-witch in a nineteenth-century classic Bildungsroman, Green Henry—a beautiful, wild girl who prizes freedom above all else. That was true of Meret, too, who dropped out of high school in Basel, intent on becoming an artist. Once in Paris, she only erratically attended her drawing classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She was a poet as well as a visual artist, and, much like Man Ray, she valued the concept of an artwork over its technical execution. She pursued her education in the cafés, not in the academies. There was an established and insular colony of Swiss expatriates living in Paris since the end of World War I. Oppenheim chose not to congregate with them. In this regard, too, she was like Man Ray. She arrived in the city speaking no French and yet wanted to associate with natives. Nonetheless, one of the first artists she met, at the Dôme, was her Swiss compatriot Giacometti, who also avoided fraternizing with most of the other Swiss artists in Paris. She developed a passionate crush on him, which was not reciprocated, and their relationship remained platonic. But a good friend of Giacometti—the handsome Max Ernst, who had romanced Gala Éluard before she eloped with 107

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Dalí—fell for her. Although he was married to his second wife, he entered into a love affair with Meret that lasted for a year— until she broke it off, fearful that the tie to a better-known artist would constrict her independence. Man Ray, too, met Oppenheim through Giacometti. Man Ray liked the Swiss sculptor, whom he judged to be “a tortured soul,” perennially “dissatisfied with his work, feeling that he had carried it not far enough, or perhaps too far.” When Giacometti took up painting, Man Ray remarked, “His colorless, line-searching figures seemed to express final resignation in a futile search of himself.” Giacometti was a great conversationalist, roaming among various subjects, and Man Ray enjoyed sitting with him in a café, not merely to listen but to watch: “His deeply marked face with a grayish complexion, like a medieval sculpture, was a fine subject for my photographic portraiture.” Man Ray emphasized the stoniness of Giacometti’s face in photographing him. And during the heyday of his lucrative fashion work, he sometimes steered the expense budget to commission bas-reliefs from Giacometti as backgrounds.2 While Oppenheim had not attracted Giacometti, this beautiful young woman with a short haircut and an androgynous allure appealed to Man Ray, and they had a brief love affair. In 1933, he proposed that she model for a picture to run in Minotaure, an opulent new magazine coedited by Breton. He set up a session at the studio of Louis Marcoussis, a Cubist painter and etcher of Polish-Jewish ancestry whose name originally was Markus. Man Ray outfitted Marcoussis in a blazer, pinstriped suit, and bowler hat, and he hung on his face a ludicrous false beard, putatively “to hide his identity,” but in actuality giving him the sinister appearance of a Jew in an anti-Semitic film. Oppenheim was naked except for a thin band around her neck. In many of the images from the shoot, Oppenheim seems to be a supplicant or victim. She stands demurely while Marcoussis wipes her hand with a cloth; she leans against the wall 108

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with an outstretched, blackened arm; and, most alarmingly, she lies on her stomach (clothed this time) on the flatbed press, looking in wide-eyed fright at the bearded man with a bald head (his hat is off) who holds her arms behind her back by the wrists. Man Ray later wrote that the shots that included Marcoussis were “a bit too scabrous for the deluxe art magazine for which it was intended.”3 In the chosen picture, Oppenheim stands by herself with her eyes cast down. She holds to her forehead a hand that is blackened with ink, the smear extending up to her elbow. Behind her is the flatbed, as if it is prepared (long before Yves Klein or Robert Rauschenberg thought of body printing) to receive her impression. In front of her, and partly concealing her breasts, is the enormous wheel of the press, with its handle positioned so it protrudes from her pubis like a phallus. The hermaphroditic portrait was cropped by Minotaure, with the projecting rod eliminated, but in the full image, the lotus pattern of the wheel calls attention to the body parts that appear through the gaps in the curved spokes: the hair under her arm, the concavity of her navel, and the leanness of her hips and legs. The mysterious, sexually potent photograph is titled Érotique voilée, the phrase taken from Breton’s essay on “convulsive beauty,” which was published alongside it (and later appeared in his book L’Amour fou): “Convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial or it will not be.” A moody pendant to Man Ray’s Explosante-fixe, Érotique voilée, like Anatomies before it, infuses a delicate female model with a powerful masculine charge. It also combines photographically, as Picabia, Duchamp, and Man Ray himself had done earlier in painting, the mechanical and the libidinal. How much Oppenheim, who all her life preached the desirability of integrating the masculine with the feminine, contributed to the concept of the picture is one of the unresolved questions that surround it. Breton also furnished the name for Oppenheim’s most ac109

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claimed work, an object—she called such pieces her things— that she created three years later. His title, Le Déjeuner en fourrure (Breakfast in fur), evoked two scandalous works: Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, which shocked conventional minds by extracting a nude woman from the usual classical context and placing her instead in the company of two clothed contemporary Frenchmen (Man Ray had restaged it the previous year to commemorate Breton’s marriage), and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, a novella about sexual submission. Breton might have just as well used Érotique voilée—or perhaps Magiquecirconstancielle—for Oppenheim’s fur-wrapped breakfast set. Oppenheim transformed the most mundane items into a tactile sensory suggestion (fur on the lips!) that was as unexpected and transgressive as a forbidden sexual encounter. At the time, she was supporting herself by designing jewelry for Elsa Schiaparelli, the daring couturier. One day, Oppenheim was at the Café de Flore, in the company of a good friend, the Surrealist artist and photographer Dora Maar, and Maar’s lover, Picasso. Oppenheim showed them a bracelet she had made for Schiaparelli out of a brass pipe that she covered with fur. Oppenheim recalled Picasso saying with delight, “You could cover everything with fur.” To which she replied, gesturing to the tableware, “This cup, for instance.” What had been decoration became art. She went to the Monoprix department store and purchased a cheap cup, saucer, and spoon. She upholstered all three items with the hide of a Chinese gazelle. Her own straightforwardly descriptive title was Tasse, soucoupe, et cuillière revêtus de fourrure (Cup, saucer and spoon covered in fur). The clearest precedent was Man Ray’s Cadeau from 1921, the iron that he transformed into something nonfunctional and sexually aggressive by studding it with nails. Oppenheim’s object was even stranger, wittier, and sexier. When it was first shown at the Galerie Charles Ratton as part of an exhibition of Surrealist objects curated by Breton 110

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(who took the occasion to rename it), the Breakfast in fur caused a stir. For Oppenheim’s first solo exhibition, which occurred that year in Basel, Ernst wrote a text that included this slightly condescending compliment: “Who covers the soup spoon with precious fur? Little Meret. Who has outstripped us? Little Meret.” (“Little Meret” is the translation of Oppenheim’s literary namesake, Meretlein.) Man Ray, who had seven objects in the show, was one of the artists outstripped.4 Breton’s exhibition at the Galerie Charles Ratton ran for a week, from May 22 to 29, 1936. Amidst the hodgepodge of fleamarket finds, non-Western sculpture, taxidermist animal specimens, and carnivorous plants, Oppenheim’s object sat on the bottom shelf of a vitrine, which also contained Duchamp’s Bottle Dryer readymade and sculptures by Ernst. Seeing it there, Alfred Barr bought it for two hundred Swiss francs for the Museum of Modern Art. When Barr mounted his Fantastic Art exhibition later that year, Man Ray’s enormous painting of Lee Miller’s floating lips dominated the entrance and a rayograph appeared on the cover of the catalogue, but Oppenheim’s small object provoked the most fascination, admiration, and outrage. Over the years, it has become probably the most famous Surrealist artwork of all. It is more celebrated than a series of photographs of Surrealist objects that Man Ray produced from 1935 to 1936, and which provided Breton with another, less fruitful opportunity to indulge his penchant for nomenclature. Through Ernst’s recommendation, Man Ray learned of a large collection of about six hundred mathematical models at the Institut Henri Poincaré, a Sorbonne center for the study of mathematics and physics. Intended to provide concrete illustrations of abstract concepts, the models exerted a topological and sculptural fascination wholly apart from their heuristic purpose. Indeed, they had fallen into pedagogic disuse. Man Ray recalled finding them in a “dim hall, lined with glass cases containing hundreds of strange objects, 111

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papier-mâché, metal, wire, string, glass, glue, gelatine, paper.”5 He photographed the objects that intrigued him, usually ones with protuberances and cavities suggesting human features— faces, breasts, genitals. He set up neutral backdrops, either light-­ colored smooth paper or textured dark fabric, and as if he were in his studio, he supplemented the available light with artificial illumination. Most often he photographed the models in pairs, later cropping the frames to present each individually. In the surviving negatives and contact sheets, there are only thirtyfour models he chose to photograph, and he printed fewer. He called them Human Equations. In their linking of the mechanical and sexual, they were throwbacks to his art of two decades earlier. Lacking the immediacy of Oppenheim’s object, they were allusive, not visceral. Were they art or documentation? Breton included some of the Institut Poincaré models in the Galerie Ratton exhibition, but not Man Ray’s photographs; and although a dozen of the photographs did appear in the Cahiers d’Art issue devoted to the Surrealist object, they would have been regarded merely as representations of these evocative things. When Barr accepted fifteen photographs for the Fantastic Art show, he catalogued them as “Comparative Material.” Man Ray himself would later say that he produced the photographs as studies for paintings, which indeed they would become; but with all of Man Ray’s commentary, one must apply a healthy dose of skepticism. Certainly they were later transformed into paintings. However, even if he took them for that purpose, they succeed artistically very well as photographs. Both Christopher Zervos, the editor of Cahiers d’Art, and Breton questioned whether abstract mathematical models were suitable subjects for art. For Man Ray, finding the fantastic elements and the corporeal eroticism in these emblems of cerebral rationality formed much of the game. He made the photographs at a historical moment in which logical codes were 112

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starting to crumble before irrational forces. In Le Beau Temps, the 1939 painting that encapsulated his political apprehensions, an open book lying in a corner displays a sketch of a recent painting, La Quadrature (1938), which represents the squaring of a circle (an impossible task in Euclidian geometry). Man Ray perceived the thunderclouds of barbarism looming on the horizon. Oppenheim felt the onslaught of virulent political hatred more directly. She had been troubled by depression since she was a girl. And now, at the moment of her great success, she suffered what she called a seventeen-year-long crisis that would persist until 1954. She characterized it as a “destruction of self-esteem.”6 The unasked-for celebrity that accompanied the success of Breakfast in fur accounted for some of her malaise. Among the Surrealists, a woman artist was foremost a woman, and if she was a young, beautiful woman like Oppenheim, she would be idealized, lusted after, glorified, and demeaned. In another of her things, also produced in 1936, Oppenheim brilliantly conveyed the feeling. Ma gouvernante—my nurse—mein Kindermädchen consists of a pair of white highheeled shoes on a silver tray. (The shoes belonged to Ernst’s wife, who, when she saw it, destroyed the original version.) On each heel, pointed up, Oppenheim placed a white frilly hat, of the sort typically placed on the ribs of a crown roast of lamb or the wingtips of a roast fowl. The assemblage evoked bourgeois niceties and feminine submission in one masterstroke. But along with the conflicted feelings that came with being a talked-about woman artist, there was another likely explanation for Oppenheim’s malaise: the rising swell of anti-Semitism. Although her family identified as Christian, the name Oppenheim was Jewish. Meret’s father was forced by Nazi regulations to close his medical practice. He moved to Switzerland, where, as a German citizen, he was unable to work. The family could no longer help support Meret, who had relied on their financial subsidies. She moved in 1937 to Basel, a small, straitlaced city 113

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that buzzed with rumors (which she ignored) of her scandalous nude photograph. She was in advance of the wave of emigration. Had she not left Paris, she would no doubt have later joined the other Swiss artists and returned to a neutral refuge, following the fall of France to Germany in June 1940. Artists of Jewish background, whatever their nationality, were in the most danger. Marcoussis, a Catholic convert, fled Nazi-occupied Paris for the seeming safety of Free France in Vichy; he died, in October 1941, before the deportations of Jews punctured that illusion. Man Ray avoided all discussion of his Semitic origins. If asked about his background, he would humorously deflect the inquiry. He was a master of misdirection, and his masterpiece was his own public image. But some things could not be erased. As the threat of war darkened, his status as an ethnic Jew exacerbated his vulnerability. Personally and professionally, he was prospering. It seemed unreal that world events could wash it all away. In the summer of 1936, while he was vacationing in the hills above Mougins as part of a group that included Picasso and Dora Maar, he met Adrienne Fidelin, a mixed-race dancer from Guadeloupe, on the fashionable La Garoupe beach at Cap d’Antibes. With her he began his first happy, committed relationship since the breakup with Lee Miller four years earlier. He liked Antibes so much that he rented a terraced top-floor apartment there as a hideaway dedicated to painting. This was in addition to a large live-and-work space in Paris. He could afford it all thanks to occasional highly paid photography assignments for fashion magazines and advertising clients. Everything was idyllic, except. . . . The signing of the Munich agreement at the end of September 1938, aroused worries that war was imminent. If it were to start, Man Ray didn’t want to be stranded in Antibes. He needed to be somewhere that would allow him to make a quick exit. Picasso agreed to take over the apartment lease, and Man Ray, relinquishing his dream to be, like Van Gogh, Cézanne, 114

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and so many others, a great painter in the Midi, went back north full-time. Still yearning for rustic space, he bought a house early in 1939 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a western suburb of Paris. It was spacious enough that when war finally came on September 1, 1939, Man Ray obtained a pass that allowed him to drive to Antibes at breakneck speed and clean out his possessions, including his paintings. He sent everything to Saint-Germain-enLaye. And then, like toute la France, he waited. The Germans invaded Belgium and the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, and quickly overran Normandy. Man Ray locked up his Paris apartment and studio, and the house in Saint-Germainen-Laye, including all of his artwork, and took the few things that would fit in his small car. With Ady, he joined the torrent of civilians flowing out of Paris before the arrival of the German army. His goal was to reach Bordeaux, where they might be able to board a ship. Competing for food, lodging, and, scarcest of all, gasoline, they made it to an Atlantic beach resort, Les Sables d’Olonne, where they heard the announcement of an armistice. France had fallen. German troops were moving in to occupy the north, including Les Sables. The collaborationist Free Zone was established in the south. Crossing the border between the two territories was forbidden. The German authorities in Sables ordered Man Ray and Ady to return to Paris. Once there, they found to their relief that, except for the theft of Ady’s new bicycle, everything remained untouched. Everything in the house and studio, that is. Paris had been transformed by the infusion of German soldiers. To the aestheticized sensibility of Man Ray, the ubiquity of their uniforms seemed like a vandal’s splash of dull gray-green paint over the beloved, familiar places. Too disquieted to work, he resolved a few weeks later to take Ady with him out of France. They would travel to neutral Portugal and then determine their next move. The departure required planning and permits. Once again 115

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he locked away his possessions. This time, he removed large paintings from their stretchers and rolled them up, placing them for safekeeping in the hands of his paint supplier. He placed his car on blocks in the garage of his house in Saint-Germain-enLaye. He hoped to return in a few months. At the last minute, Ady backed out, saying she couldn’t leave her family behind. First he was angry, but on reflection, he thought perhaps it was better for her to forgo the hazardous journey. He left her checks to draw on his bank account, most of which had to stay in France. It was with a leaden heart that Man Ray left the woman and the city he loved, embarking on an uncertain and difficult path: to the southwestern border of France, through Spain by night train to Lisbon, and finally, after a two-week wait for the next boat out, sailing on the S.S. Excambion, an American ship crowded with repatriating students who, like him, slept on mattresses set up in the grand salon. When the ship arrived in New York, he was “overcome with a feeling of intense depression” to be back in a place where he had never fit in. Having left New York “under a cloud of misunderstanding and distrust,” he was returning as a famous photographer—which meant, if he accepted that status, that he was “joining the ranks whose greatest thrill consisted of selling and buying.” While he had been accepted in Paris as an artist, he felt that in New York he was seen according to his powers as a moneymaker, and his most commercial enterprise was photography. Unlike the French, the Americans even refused to classify him under the initial “M” for Man Ray and listed him with the “R” ’s. Although minor individually, these auguries added up to an ominous presentiment. In the twenty years that had elapsed since his departure, he had changed. New York, he believed, had not.7

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12 Juliet Browner

On August 16, 1940, Man Ray’s favorite sister, Elsie Siegler, was waiting with her young daughter, Naomi, when the Excambion docked in Hoboken, New Jersey. As usual, journalists on the pier perused the passenger list to buttonhole disembarking celebrities. Amidst the fuss over Salvador Dalí, Man Ray slipped back into his homeland unnoticed. Once installed at the Siegler home in Jersey City, he considered how best to cope with his forced repatriation. He was about to turn fifty. Beached in a country that had never recognized his achievements, stripped of his lover, his friends, and, worst of all, the storehouse of his work, he felt he was starting over. New York was no place for an unrecognized, underpaid middle-aged artist. “I decided my life was finished,” he confessed.1 But he was someone whose lifelong practice was turning far-fetched and whimsical notions into reality. He began think-

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ing he might sit out the war in Tahiti, or maybe Hawaii. More than a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Pacific seemed like a good bet. He could follow Gauguin in retreating from the south of France to a more exotic refuge. But how to get there? Such was his frame of mind when Harry Kantor, a bohemian friend of the Sieglers who was earning a living as a necktie salesman, invited him to come along on a cross-country business trip by car to Los Angeles. That would deliver him to the edge of the Pacific, closer to the islands. Moreover, he would escape from New York, which dispirited him. He gratefully signed on. Barely a month after his arrival in the city, he departed for the West Coast. By now he was an American more familiar with France than with his own country. This journey provided his first and only exposure to l’Amérique profonde. The duo traveled west to Chicago, south to New Orleans, and then down Route 66 to Los Angeles, arriving at night in early October. “There were palm trees, sunlight, the Pacific Ocean,” he recounted. “Lots of space. No skyscrapers. Made me feel taller. So I said, ‘Why go any further? I’ll stay here a while.’ And instead of staying two weeks, as I’d planned, I stayed eleven years.”2 The palm trees and sunlight weren’t the main reason he lingered. On their first morning in town, Harry called a woman he knew from New York who was visiting at the home of a friend, and arranged for the four of them to have dinner that night. Both women were conversant with the New York art world. Man Ray was flattered that Harry’s friend, a young woman with dark curly hair and exotically slanted eyes, knew him by reputation. At a jazz club that all four went to after dinner, Man Ray danced with her. She felt “like a feather” in his arms.3 Her name was Juliet Browner, and she was indeed familiar both with the New York art scene and the dance floor. A student of modern dance, Juliet, who was thirty, grew up in the Bronx, the eldest of seven children born to a financially strug118

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gling pharmacist and his wife. Because of her mother’s delicate health, she helped take care of her younger siblings. At the age of sixteen, however, she dropped out of high school and moved to a shared apartment in Greenwich Village. There she studied with a dancer trained by Martha Graham and supported herself by modeling for artists, including Arshile Gorky. She had a boyish figure and a waiflike allure. In the downtown group she frequented, she stood out for her graceful beauty. She loved to dance by herself at parties, basking in the warmth of the appreciative response. In 1934, she joined a group of friends at a get-together at the loft of the painter Willem de Kooning. He put Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring on his turn­ table, and its atavistic rhythms animated her. “I was so moved by the music I got up and danced until dawn,” she recalled.4 De Kooning, too, was moved. She spent the night with him, and so began a four-year romance. But de Kooning was not a one-woman man, and the connection flickered with interference from his other lovers until it sputtered out in 1938. Juliet took the end of the affair hard. On the advice of a friend, who worried that a couple of years later Juliet was still fretting over de Kooning, she decided to take a vacation from New York. That is why she was in Los Angeles at the time Man Ray entered the city. And it also helps account for her receptiveness to his overtures. Man Ray remained in Los Angeles when Harry departed to resume his sales trip, and he took Juliet to lunch the next afternoon. Spending the day together, he learned of her difficulties. The friend hosting her was coping with a child and a delinquent husband. The atmosphere in the apartment was tense. Browner’s housing situation bore a peculiar resemblance to the predicament Adon Lacroix was in when Man Ray met her in Ridgefield more than a quarter century earlier. (If he noticed that coincidence, he failed to mention it.) And just as he had done in his youth, although undoubtedly with less trepidation, Man Ray 119

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made an impulsive offer. Juliet should move into his hotel. He would reserve a room for her that day. She gratefully accepted. Over the next two weeks, they maintained the separate hotel rooms. It was a costly concession to American bourgeois propriety, for they had quickly become lovers and almost as rapidly resolved to move in together. Man Ray went apartment hunting, and located a suite in the Château des Fleurs, a residential hotel in Hollywood. They lived there a few weeks before he determined that it was too cramped for him to set up a painter’s easel. Not far away, in the very heart of Hollywood at 1245 Vine Street, he found a ground-floor furnished apartment in a small garden complex. It had a high-ceilinged living room he could use as his studio, as well as a den, dining room, bedroom, and bath. “I couldn’t have imagined anything more perfect,” he said.5 He and Juliet lived there until 1951. In temperament, Juliet was completely unlike Adon, Kiki, and Lee, the three forthright women who had forcefully shaped Man Ray’s life. Deferring to her older lover and endeavoring to make his life tranquil, she resembled instead her immediate predecessor, Ady, who was also a dancer. Relatively naïve and unworldly, Browner happily permitted Man Ray to act as the choreographer of their lives, mapping out where and how they lived and whom they saw. He cultivated a small circle of friends: art dealers William Copley, Earl Stendahl, and Paul Cantor; movie producer Albert Lewin; and curator Paul Wescher, among them. Even in Paris he had been something of a homebody. In Los Angeles, the cafés and taverns were far less alluring, and he was that much older. Most of the time he was content to stay home and paint. He was not photographing professionally. It irked him that his reputation in the United States derived solely from his achievements with a camera, and that his compatriots seemed unaware of his paintings or Surrealist objects. At first, he produced some movie-star portraits, of such actresses as Ava Gard120

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ner and Jennifer Jones, but he gave that up, complaining that the clients demanded formal, conservative shots. Rather than accept fashion magazine commissions, he drew on his savings and scrimped on expenses so that he might continue the outpouring of painting he had begun in France in the thirties. But now he had a secondary objective. Yearning to recapture some of what he had abandoned, he began to “reconstruct”—that was the word he used6—some of the canvases he had left behind. Guided by photographs he had made of his paintings before leaving France, he reproduced, faithfully but not precisely, the legacy he feared was irretrievably lost. He re-created at least twenty-six of the paintings abandoned in Paris,7 including Le Beau Temps, An Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade, La Fortune, La Femme et son poisson II, and his most ­famous picture, A l’heure de l’observatoire—Les Amoureux. Aside from those recent works, he mined his history as far back as his New York days. He redid as paintings all ten of the Revolving Doors collages—twice, in oil and watercolor—and made copies of Promenade (1915) and Legend (1916). Typically, he changed the dimensions (A l’heure de l’observatoire is smaller in its Los Angeles version than the bravura original). He sometimes added or subtracted elements (he placed a tower in the background of La Fortune). He reproduced Le Beau Temps as a watercolor. None of the copies are identical reproductions. Still, it is hard to avoid thinking that, at his half-century mark, he was shifting from innovation to consolidation and reprise. Even newly conceived paintings incorporated features of the older ones—which, to be sure, was something Man Ray had always done. The sawtoothed silhouettes of The Wall reappear in Le Dernier homme sur terre (1940) and L’Homme infini (1942). In the latter, the sharp-edged figure fights a combatant who, composed of cones and cylinders, resembles Mr. and Mrs. Woodman, the mannequins that Man Ray had posed in sexual positions for photographs in the midtwenties. (He brought back 121

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the Woodmans to make new photographs in the same vein in the midforties.) The best of Man Ray’s Los Angeles paintings is Night Sun— Abandoned Playground (1943), in which an uprooted California cypress has toppled onto a modern house with big arched openings that recall the concrete peristyle of the Los Angeles Coliseum (architecture that also appears in L’Homme infini). Over this catastrophe, a yellow sun glowers sourly in a dark sky crossed by bright-colored clouds, their shapes taken from La Fortune. It is not an image created by someone who was grateful to be in Southern California. “California is a beautiful prison; I like being here, but I cannot forget my previous life, and long for the day when I can return to New York and eventually to France,” he wrote his sister Elsie, soon after he moved into 1245 Vine.8 He was trying to emphasize the positive—surely he could take pleasure in the climate—but even that didn’t last long. “You know that aside from the weather, the atmosphere here is stifling,” he wrote Elsie three years later.9 He was not a natural Angeleno. The brightness of the sun seemed to vex him. He refused to clean the windows of his studio, letting the streaks and dirt build up until the admitted light was as soft as in Paris. He had less control over the artistic atmosphere. “Out here they are twenty years behind N.Y. just as N.Y. is twenty years behind Europe, but the young are respectful, and the museums and galleries give me nice exhibitions,” he wrote Julien Levy in September 1944.10 Although he was courted by the sophisticated directors of galleries and museums, the response from local critics and collectors demoralized him. Within a year of his arrival (almost as quickly as when he first came to Paris), he had a show at the Frank Perls Gallery in Hollywood. Like Man Ray, the German-born Perls was a former expatriate in Paris who had resettled in Los Angeles. He was the son of two distinguished art dealers, and grew up mingling with Picasso, Dora Maar, and 122

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the other modernist luminaries in the Parisian cafés. In February 1941, he mounted Man Ray’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, including some of the recent paintings with serrated-edge silhouettes. In Paris, there had at least been lively commentary. In Los Angeles, there was none. And of course, nothing sold. Early that year, Man Ray purchased a sporty blue GrahamPaige sedan. The model was called the Hollywood, and it came with a supercharged engine. Joking that he was “the Hollywood Supercharger,”11 he drove with Juliet in May to the opening of an exhibition of his work at the M. H. de Young Museum in San Francisco. Over the next three years, he would have other museum shows, in Santa Barbara and Pasadena. The Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art (the progenitor of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) mounted two exhibitions, of paintings in 1943, and of paintings, drawings, and photographs two years later. And there were more gallery exhibitions, notably in September 1946 at the avant-garde Circle Gallery in Hollywood, where he presented a show, Objects of My Affection, of his Surrealist objects: the recent ones he had made since arriving in Los Angeles, supplemented by a few early examples (including Indestructible Object) and some contextual paintings and photographs, such as an early airbrush painting. Unhappily, though—and ironically, in light of the fact that in Paris he had been heralded by the Dadaists and Surrealists as their forerunner—he was too often dismissed by ill-informed critics in California as a pale imitator of French artists. The social life was also a comedown. Better than parties with the few locals with advanced taste were the visits from Europeans he had known in Paris—chief among them, the Surrealist artist Max Ernst, who was the only close friend of Man Ray to spend the war years in the American West. Formerly the lover of both Gala Éluard and Meret Oppenheim, Ernst had taken up with the American heiress Peggy Guggenheim. She progressed from being his patron (buying his artwork) to pro123

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tector (extricating him from Nazi-controlled France—as well as, less disinterestedly, from his lover, Leonora Carrington), to wife. Shortly before their wedding, the couple, who were living in New York, spent three weeks with Peggy’s sister in Santa Monica, seeing Man Ray and Juliet during their stay. Back in New York, the marriage didn’t last long. In 1942, Ernst met the young American painter Dorothea Tanning, who had lived in Paris before the outbreak of war. He quickly moved in with her and eventually obtained a divorce from Peggy. In 1946, Ernst and Tanning came to Hollywood and announced their plans to marry at City Hall. They asked Man Ray to serve as witness. He went one better. Having lived with Juliet for six years, he decided the time had come to follow their lead, and the couples staged a double wedding in Beverly Hills. There were celebrations over the next few days at the homes of the collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg and Albert and Millie Lewin. The event was commemorated by Man Ray’s photographic portrait of Dorothea and Juliet with elaborate headdresses and necklaces, Dorothea’s painting of Juliet in her headdress, and Max’s large canvas, Double Wedding in Beverly Hills. Both Ernst and Man Ray were established artists, within a year in age, marrying women two decades their junior. Given that this was Ernst’s fourth marriage, Man Ray might have justifiably feared that his own nuptials would be jinxed by association. As it turned out, both men died in 1976 still very much married to their wives.

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13 William Copley

In late April 1941, Duchamp wrote Man Ray from the French unoccupied zone with the comforting news that Ady was safe in Paris. She had sold his car, but the house in SaintGermain-en-Laye and its contents were unharmed. Man Ray would not be reassured. He was unshakably convinced that his life’s work was lost—everything, that is, except what he took with him when he fled the Nazis, plus the pieces he had left behind in New York when he departed for France in 1921. A year later, by which time the United States had entered the war against the Axis powers, he received even better tidings from Mary Reynolds. The deceptively gentle but magnificently redoubtable Reynolds was an American expatriate who had rebuffed the pleas of Duchamp, her longtime lover, to join him— first in the unoccupied zone, then in New York. Instead, she enlisted in the Resistance. She made it out a step ahead of arrest by the Gestapo and crossed illegally into southern France.

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Following unsuccessful attempts to secure transportation into Spain, she was forced to make a harrowing trek across a mountain pass in the Pyrenees at the end of 1942. With her, she carried rolled-up paintings by Man Ray, including A l’heure de l’observatoire—Les Amoureux. Once she reached Madrid, she was able to book passage on a ship to New York, where, still in possession of the precious cargo, she met a profoundly relieved Duchamp. In this arduous way, Man Ray was reunited with some of his most cherished work. Once the war ended, he hesitated to return to France, immobilized by his distaste for the inconveniences of travel and his love of studio routine. Knowing the hardships being endured by Parisians in the war’s aftermath made him especially loath to disrupt his comfortable day-to-day existence. A letter from Ady roused him out of his inertia. The house in Saint-Germain-enLaye had been broken into, with anything movable and of obvious value stolen. Its plumbing and electricity were faltering. Furthermore, the authorities were moving homeless families into abandoned residences. He needed to redress the situation in person. He took Juliet, who had never been to Europe, and they went by airplane, a first for both of them, in summer 1947. “Accustomed as I was to boat and train travel, except for the same annoying formalities with passports and customs, I found this magic, if unromantic—it consoled me for my distaste for traveling,” he wrote. “It could be improved upon, though, if one were put under an anesthetic and into a box for the duration of the flight.”1 Within a brief visit, Man Ray was able to find a buyer for the country house—an English major stationed in Paris, who took it in as-is condition. He retrieved his artwork, much of it moved to an attic by Ady, who had married a young Frenchman during his absence. He also introduced Juliet to his Parisian friends, including Paul Éluard, who was mourning the death of his wife, Nusch, another brave woman who had stayed 126

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in Paris to work for the Resistance. In November 1946, she collapsed on the street and died of a massive stroke. She was only forty. Shipping his retrieved paintings, drawings, photographs, and negatives to Los Angeles, Man Ray stopped with Juliet for several weeks in New York before boarding the train home. Although he no longer needed to reproduce old works as an act of restoration, the extensive project he undertook, once ensconced in his studio, was another throwback: a reimagining as full-color oil paintings of the black-and-white photographs of mathematical models he made in the thirties at the Institut Poincaré. Under the working title of “human equations,” he explored and exploited the Surrealist suggestiveness of these forms. Beginning at the end of 1947 and working rapidly and productively through 1948, he made twenty paintings, later adding (in 1949 and 1954) three more. Some were pure transpositions, others combined two or more of the models. In numerous instances, he added elements, such as butterflies or fruits. For one he included a mathematical equation on a backboard. In the most complicated painting, he threw in seven models and, for good measure, an ostrich egg and the priapic paperweight. He experimented with shaped canvases and innovative frames. He described these works to Roland Penrose as “a whole new series of paintings based on mathematical equations from an erotic standpoint—very discreet!”2 Discreet, indeed, because the erotic standpoint, if present, is usually completely concealed. More apparent is the deliberately poetic quality of these still life paintings. In urging Man Ray to avoid the sterility of mathematical abstraction when conceiving the photographs, Breton had proposed giving each image a writerly title, such as Pursued by a Hoop and The Abandoned Novel. Ultimately, Man Ray elected to provide the paintings with an even more blatantly literary dressing: the names of plays by William Shakespeare. The arbitrariness and whimsi127

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cality of his matchups were exemplified by Hamlet, a painting that originally earned its title because the white triangular form of the model reminded the artist of Yorick’s skull—until he daubed a little pink on one of the three edges in his painted representation and saw the nipple and breast of Ophelia. It is one of the few paintings in the series with an obviously sexual cast. More typically, a shape that resembled an African mask became Othello, and what might be a scale is dubbed The Merchant of Venice. Although the paintings are beautifully executed, the Surrealist spirit, which depends upon an encounter that is paradoxically both fortuitous and fated, comes through more forcefully in a photograph, which is seemingly (and in many regards, actually) the product of a moment governed by chance. The laboriously worked surface of a painting undercuts the desired effect. Man Ray was engrossed in the production of this series when he received a house call from a young man so awestruck that he stammered nearly to the point of incoherence. William Copley was the adopted son of an Illinois utilities mogul and newspaper publisher. Through his brother-in-law, John Ployardt, a disgruntled animator for Disney with a passion for Surrealism, Bill developed an interest in contemporary art. Fueled by whisky and youthful idealism, the two decided one night that what Los Angeles needed was a new avant-garde art gallery, and it was their mission to found it. Ployardt quit his job. Copley sold his house to obtain the funds to lease a bungalow in Beverly Hills that would be their gallery. But more money—much more—was coming his way: his father died in November 1947. Although Los Angeles in the war years had attracted European filmmakers, musicians, and writers, the sole prominent émigré artist was the American-born Man Ray. Copley and Ployardt knocked on his door one morning a little before noon and roused him from sleep. He told them to come back later, and when they did, they found him showered, shaved, dressed, and barely 128

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civil. He let them in. Before long, their appreciation of his work softened his grudging welcome, and when the fledgling gallerists offered him a 10 percent sales guarantee if he agreed to a show, Man Ray, as thirsty for cash as he was for recognition, agreed. He helped them further by advising them how best to contact Duchamp on their planned trip to New York. (The circuitous method called for them to send a telegram to a beauty parlor on Fourteenth Street, which would elicit a postcard response from Duchamp with instructions on how to meet.) Through Duchamp, they obtained an introduction to Ernst and Tanning in Sedona, Arizona. So grew their stable of artists. The Copley Galleries debuted in September 1948 with a show of Magritte oil paintings, gouaches, and drawings, consigned by the New York dealer Alexander Iolas. The riotous opening was thronged with guests drawn by the lure of free liquor. Adding to the air of mayhem was a capuchin monkey jumping on the shoulders of the attendees. (Ployardt had acquired it because, he said, there was cachet in being arguably the only gallery with a resident monkey; the day of the opening it bit him.) At first, Copley and Ployardt feared there would be no sales, but the next afternoon, a highly inebriated, very knowledgeable collector, Stanley Barbie, visited the gallery and purchased an oil painting and a gouache. The Copley Galleries was off and running. But in its short history, these would prove to be the only two works that sold to a client who was not a friend doing them or their artist a favor. In another venture that was characteristically high-minded and financially dubious, Copley arranged to publish a book by Man Ray that would appear at the time of the artist’s exhibition. Alphabet for Adults was a project that Man Ray had conceived in Paris. His notion was to make the antithesis of a children’s primer: just as the young need to learn language, so the adult must unlearn the automatic associations that deaden thought. In Paris, he had planned to illustrate the volume with rayographs (an O, 129

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for example, would have been accompanied by a rayograph of two eggs), but the publisher resisted and nothing emerged. He reconceived the book with line drawings. Copley didn’t sell a single copy; however, as he later realized, that hardly affected the fundamental problem, as the asking price didn’t cover the production costs. The Man Ray exhibition, which ran from December 14, 1948, until January 10, 1949, was the gallery’s fourth. By that time, Man Ray had attended enough openings to recognize and drily nod to the party atmosphere. The gallery had a street-side patio that was never used. He designed a “Man Ray Café” sign to place at the entrance and suspended Obstruction, his sculpture composed of wooden hangers, above it. Rented round tables with red-and-white checkered cloths were set up on the street. Françoise Stravinsky, the composer’s daughter-in-law, who was working as the gallery secretary, cooked vats of onion soup, served along with French bread and red wine. Shakespearean Equations, displayed publicly for the first time, constituted the star attraction, but the exhibition included work going back as far as his pre-Paris production in New York. Up until the last day of the installation, Copley was unsure if Man Ray would permit photographs to be part of the mix. “He resented his reputation as a photographer,” Copley said. “Some people didn’t know he had ever painted. . . . In the end we got our way by promising him ‘carte blanche’ and it turned out about the way we’d hoped it would anyway.”3 The show included rayographs—he had for the most part stopped making them in Paris in the thirties but in Los Angeles he resumed their production—and camera-created photographs. A photo on the cover of the catalogue was a self-portrait in which Man Ray sported a beard on one half of his face and was clean-shaven on the other: betwixt and between. At his request, the exhibition was called “To Be Continued Unnoticed,” an anagram that wittily expressed his dismay at his invisibility in Los Angeles. As 130

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usual, his emotions came encapsulated in a joke. And he was prophetic. The show attracted scant attention, generating no press and resulting in the sale of only two paintings, from the Shakespearean Equations series, both to friends. Meanwhile, Cop­ ley purchased art to satisfy his guarantee. He would continue to add to his collection of Man Ray paintings over the coming years, stepping in when the artist’s finances dipped perilously low—“coming to my rescue,” as Man Ray put it.4 One of his acquisitions was A l’heure de l’observatoire—Les Amoureux. It was a shrewd choice. He sold it at auction three decades later, in 1979, for $750,000, a price that tripled the record at the time for a Surrealist work of art. Man Ray later said, in a widely cited remark, that he produced almost as much work in his ten years in Hollywood as in his previous thirty.5 Even if true, the numerical abundance belies the creative barrenness. He was repeating himself. The loss of a stimulating artistic milieu bears part of the blame. Also, he was getting older. In August 1950 he turned sixty. While middle age needn’t dry up an artist’s wellsprings (look at Picasso and Matisse), all too often it does. Aside from the duplicative painting, Man Ray made some photographs. Many of them were of the subject matter that his less gifted compatriots were also taking in the postwar home-photography boom—his wife, their holidays. One of his finest, though, is of an artsier subject, a dead castor-bean leaf. The large, lobed leaf (one can be more than two feet wide) had seized up like an arthritic hand. In a caption for the photograph, which he took in 1942 and published the following year, Man Ray wrote that “the dying leaf would be completely gone tomorrow.”6 He called it a “dying leaf, its curled ends desperately clawing the air.”7 It was a message picture. Although Los Angeles, inducing its legendary lotus-like spell, had tranquilized him with a succession of beautiful, uneventful days, beneath the surface he was struggling. As Juliet didn’t work, he was responsible for 131

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their support; unable to sell his recent paintings and unwilling to do commercial fashion photography, he didn’t earn enough to live comfortably. During their visit to Paris, he had scared up some money by selling, in addition to the country house, a backstock of his limited-edition 1932 album of photographs to an American dealer. In Los Angeles, though, his opportunities were thin. Mary Stothart, the sympathetic widow of an eminent film composer, Herbert Stothart, signed over to him some of her ASCAP checks; Juliet chose to regard this act of charity as Mary’s payment for photography lessons. “The checks were a windfall for Man and Julie and kept them going,” said James Byrnes, the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum.8 Mary Stothart even staged an exhibition of Man Ray’s works in her Brentwood house and invited collectors. When nothing sold, she bought some of the pieces herself, including two Shakespearean Equations paintings. Byrnes arranged for Man Ray to be the guest speaker on Dada and Surrealism at a night course on twentieth-century art that he was giving at the University of Southern California, and handed over his stipend of about fifteen dollars. “I knew he could use it,” Byrnes said. Vaguely aware of Man Ray’s distinguished reputation, movie producers would take a meeting, then forego a follow-up once he revealed his anticollaborative, anticommercial bias. He wanted to do everything himself—the direction, screenwriting, and photography. The only movie job he completed while living in Hollywood indicates how unsuited he was to the industry. As a favor to a friend, he wrote a script, “Ruth, Roses and Revolvers,” that was part of an omnibus film made in 1944 by the expatriate German artist and moviemaker Hans Richter, with contributions by Duchamp, Léger, and Ernst. Man Ray’s segment was a dream sequence with music by Darius Milhaud. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Los Angeles interval needed to end. There were too many cars. The air pollu132

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tion was worsening. But what pushed him over was the phasing out, beginning in 1951, of the California rent control regulation. Man Ray’s monthly apartment rent of fifty dollars would double. He considered relocating to New York, which would have required less of an adjustment for Juliet. In New York, there were more sympathetic galleries and informed critics than in Los Angeles. He had closer friends there as well, with Du­ champ at the top of the list. But he retained a gut-level distaste for the city of his youth. Indeed, America as a whole demoralized him. Compared with Europe, it felt philistine and materialistic. And things were getting worse. The anti-Communist and antiintellectual hysteria of the McCarthy period had infected the whole country, hanging in the air like the smog that burned his eyes in L.A. Bolstered by his inheritance and fired by boyish, testosterone-rich enthusiasm, Copley was by now Man Ray’s most important backer. He and Ployardt closed their gallery in 1949, conceding that Los Angeles was an “intellectual desert” not yet ready for Surrealist art. Yet Copley liked to quote Man Ray’s remark that “there was more Surrealism rampant in Hollywood than all the Surrealists could invent in a lifetime.”9 Even though Copley was no longer representing Man Ray professionally, his support for his brilliant friend never wavered. Copley had redirected his energies to his own creative efforts, progressing from writing to painting at around this time. Untrained, he drew in a loopy, cartoony style that would later seem to prefigure Pop Art. Most often, his subjects were naked, darkhaired ladies. His real-life interests paralleled his artistic ones. In 1951, his first marriage was ending. (He would marry six times before his death in 1996.) He was enmeshed in a romance with Gloria de Herrera, who was James Byrnes’s assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum, a beautiful young woman photographed often by Man Ray. When Man Ray determined that he wanted to move back 133

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to Paris with Juliet, Copley—who was also looking to make a fresh start—declared that he and Gloria would relocate there, too. What’s more, he invited Man Ray and Juliet to sail with them as his guests to France. On March 12, 1951, the two couples boarded the De Grasse in New York to steam into the future. Duchamp bid them adieu on deck. He brought Man Ray a farewell gift: a plaster cast (one of two—he kept the other for himself) of the female genitalia, Feuille de vigne femelle. Although it might seem it was cast from life, it was likely an impression he made in preparing the life-size nude figure in Étant donnés, the sculptural installation that occupied him for two decades at the end of his life. He worked on it in secret in New York in his studio on Fourteenth Street, allowing the world to think that he had abandoned his art practice, so that he could, without any of the resentment that afflicted Man Ray, continue unnoticed. One of the few to become aware of the existence of Étant donnés was Copley, who financed its completion through a foundation he established with his second wife, Noma Ratner, an American in Paris. He was introduced to Noma by Man Ray and Juliet after his two-year relationship with Gloria had run its course. Copley would spend fourteen years in Paris, before moving back to the United States in 1965. De Herrera would never repatriate, finding employment as an art conservator, then as the assistant who pasted down the cutout shapes in Matisse’s collages, and, most improbably of all, as an activist imprisoned briefly for aiding the Algerian independence movement. Man Ray would live with Juliet for the next quarter century in Paris. His exile in America was over.

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14 Man Ray’s Own Shadow

Man Ray joked that Paris drew him back “like the scene of his crime to a criminal.”1 Disputing the lament of those Americans who mourned the loss of the France they loved, he maintained that Paris was as he remembered it. In the decades since he first saw the city, he had changed more than Paris. The thirty-year-old on the threshold of a career, meeting fellow firebrands and feeling the unfamiliar thrill of artistic camaraderie, was now the sixty-year-old proponent of historical movements that smelled fusty in the triumphant dawn of Abstract Expressionism and its French counterpart, Art Informel. Man Ray had an established reputation, especially in France. He still did not, however, have an established income. That posed a problem now that he was no longer young, with financial responsibility for a wife who didn’t work outside the home, and, furthermore, couldn’t speak French. His first task was to find a place for them to live. They

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checked into a good hotel, which was nonetheless chilly (truly, he was back in Paris), and he set out to locate an apartment. Rental opportunities were surprisingly scarce. After a couple of weeks of futile searches, he and Juliet traded down to a more modest hotel in Montparnasse while his hunt proceeded. He was on the verge of despair when he heard a report from a visiting California friend that an American seeking a furnished bourgeois flat had been shown something unsuitable—a sculptor’s studio just north of the Luxembourg Gardens. Could this be it? Investigating, Man Ray came face to face with a long seminary wall that was pierced by a door, marked 2 bis rue Férou, the address he had been given. He rang the bell repeatedly, then left a note with his name and his hotel phone number. Several days later, the sculptor called, and Man Ray arranged to visit. He fell in love immediately. But he wasn’t in this alone. When he brought Juliet to see the space, she trembled. “I was terrified,” she recalled. “I cried. It was absolutely like a garage.”2 Indeed, that had once been its function. Constructed by enclosing an alley that ran between the seminary and a neighboring house, the studio wasn’t even remotely domestic. The ceiling soared close to thirty feet high. The walls were whitewashed. But sun poured in from skylights and from windows on three sides, and the luxury of so much space in central Paris was irresistible. This would be a congenial environment in which Man Ray could paint. Confident that he’d be able to convert it into an acceptable place to live, he overruled Juliet’s misgivings. She was, in the end, won over. Her Man could do no wrong. As Bill Copley remarked, “It was immediately obvious how she worshipped him.”3 Once they made the commitment, she marveled at the creativity and efficiency with which he supervised the transformation of the space. Bringing in carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, he boxed off a bedroom that might be warmed separately with a radiator. He stretched parachute cloth across 136

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the ceiling to block drafts and create a more intimate feeling. A pulley system allowed him to store objects by suspending them. He constructed a basic kitchen. He installed heating pipes that connected to the adjacent building. Everything was completed in a month. Once the winter weather arrived, however, they learned that the furnace in the house next door was derelict, and no heat flowed through the new pipes. Undaunted, he acquired a potbellied coal stove. Although they kept the studio for a quarter century, supplementing it for the last couple of years of Man Ray’s life with a small apartment, Juliet’s initial doubts proved well-founded. “It took me quite a while to like it,” she recalled.4 On winter mornings the interior temperature could drop to forty-two degrees. Wrapped in a fur coat, she would cook eggs and brew coffee; shivering, she’d carry the plates and cups back to bed, where they huddled beneath electric blankets, propping the dishes on folding tables that Man Ray devised so he could smoke, work, and make phone calls without venturing into the chilly air. He wrapped socks around the toilet seat to keep it warm. Sometimes, if a night was particularly arctic, they stayed with friends. She missed the warmth and ease of Southern California, but she recognized that her husband’s overriding priority was his art. If he wasn’t working, he was discontent. Tellingly, he took an old sofa that came with the apartment and ripped it apart, extracting a spring that he mounted onto a base; he called it It’s Springtime. He was resourceful with his hands and tools, but his aims weren’t always practical. If his art was going well, he might not notice the frigid outside realities. Once the renovations were adequately complete, he devoted himself to painting. Juliet customarily sat quietly in the studio. “He would like me to be there while he worked,” she explained. “We didn’t talk. He just wanted to feel my presence.”5 Clad in a beret and serape, he labored at the easel until it was time for lunch. He and Juliet would walk a block to an inexpensive Ital137

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ian restaurant, Aux Trois Canettes, known more familiarly as Chez Alexandre, where they took their accustomed table just past the bar on the right and he ordered either lasagna or steak tartare, with a glass of red wine. He was a creature of habit, abiding by the creed famously espoused by Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Within the routine, his curious mind found variety. Choosing a pear from the bowl over lunch at Chez Alexandre, he told Arturo Schwarz, “I love pears because they have personality, you will never find two pears that taste alike.”6 His principal canvas in the first year was a tribute to his return to Paris, La rue Férou. In faithful detail, he painted the narrow passage with its long blank wall. “I made a rather academic painting of the street as I might have photographed it,” he explained.7 In fact, it is less like a photograph than like a Surrealist painting by Magritte. Two big spherical treetops extend above the seminary wall. The evening sky is azure. Most enigmatic, though, is what appears on a cart that is being pulled by a man in a beret—Man Ray’s customary headwear—beneath a wash of light: a blanket-wrapped bundle that is unmistakably The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse. What did he mean by including a work he had created more than thirty years before? It would have been clearer that he intended to maintain his loyalty to Dada and Surrealism, were it not that the cart is a tumbrel, the conveyance that carried the victims of the Terror to the guillotine during the French Revolution. The meaning of the image is left an enigma, but the scene is charged with the melancholic outlook of an artist heading into his final chapter, dragging behind him the emblem of his old reputation, in a depopulated, unseeing world. Man Ray on his return to Paris fumbled inconclusively at adopting a new style. His cerebral, ironic mindset was out of sync with the gestural abstract art, prizing emotion and authenticity, 138

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that prevailed after World War II. From the late fifties until the midsixties, he experimented with what he called “natural painting,” an ironic take on postwar abstraction. He would squeeze acrylic paint out of the tube onto a Masonite board and press another board on top of it. Then he would separate them and leave the thick paint to dry. He claimed that sometimes he did it blind, without checking on the colors. He argued, too, that the results “were astonishing, with details that could have been obtained only through long and meticulous labor by hand.” The jejune compositions don’t corroborate his boast.8 Moreover, these paintings were a less interesting variant on the “unpremeditated” ones he had done in Paris, starting in 1929, when he squeezed paint directly from the tube onto panels that had been painstakingly prepared by an assistant with an expensive surface of gold leaf or silver.9 The juxtaposition of the exquisite artisanal background and the crudely expressive blotches had made for a more provocative statement. (Although, to be sure, those works didn’t rank among Man Ray’s major achievements, either.) In 1959, he produced a series of black-and-white Polaroid prints by swinging his camera in his studio and pressing the shutter at random. He might have called them “natural photographs” to match the paintings, but instead, he titled them “unconcerned photographs,” when he sent them in response to a request from the Museum of Modern Art for a contribution to an exhibition on abstraction in photography. Unconcerned from the vantage point of their producer, they are uninspired from the perspective of the viewer. When Man Ray had grappled, almost forty years earlier, with ways to make “automatic” photographs, he came up with rayographs, which required much laborious input to convey the impression of emanating directly from the unconscious mind. Although the unconcerned photographs are more visually engaging than the natural paintings, they fall far short of the rayographs. 139

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Predictably, the natural paintings (let alone the unconcerned photographs) did not earn him money. None of his paintings did. At the few gallery shows of his work in Los Angeles and New York in the fifties, little if anything sold. Although he concentrated on his current work, he could hardly avoid perceiving that he had aged into a living representative of a vanished past. A past, however, that at least in Paris was far from dead and buried. In March 1957, the Galerie de l’Institut in Paris presented a Dada exhibition, with two objects by Man Ray: Boardwalk, an assemblage from 1917, on a weathered plywood support, of painted rectangles, a trompe l’oeil painted patch of tweed fabric, some cord, and four drawer knobs; and Object to Be Destroyed, in a version (the previous ones were lost) that he fabricated for a show that Julien Levy gave him in New York in April 1945. Young protestors swarmed the gallery. It was as if the fiery demonstrations of the twenties had been revived, even more farcical in reprise. They stomped on the metronome and ripped Boardwalk from the wall and ran off with it. When Man Ray pursued them, he tripped, breaking his glasses. He nevertheless managed to retrieve Boardwalk from a young man who was firing a pistol at it. Later, he instructed the gallery not to repair the three bullet holes in the board. “Don’t, it’s a historic document,” he said of this precursor to Andy Warhol’s Shot Marilyns.10 As for Object to Be Destroyed, the insurance company wanted to cover only the cost of the metronome, but he successfully argued that he was owed the stated value of the work, saying, “So, when a painting is destroyed, instead of paying the guaranteed amount, you buy brushes and canvas and give them to the owner of the painting, telling him, Make another.”11 He vowed to use the insurance money to buy fifty metronomes and reproduce the piece. (Man Ray’s objects were also included in less contentious exhibitions of Dada that were held at the end of the decade, at the Düsseldorf Kunsthalle in fall 1958 and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in winter 1958–59.) 140

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He was no more inclined to do commercial photography in Paris than he had been in Los Angeles. “When he returned to Paris, he wanted to come across as a painter, or a sculptor, or anything you like, but not a photographer; so he didn’t do any more photography,” said Lucien Treillard, who became Man Ray’s assistant in the sixties. “He was interested in being recognized as an artist, not as a photographer. He wanted to forget that label.”12 But he needed to find another source of income. The resurrection and proliferation of Object to Be Destroyed indicated a possible avenue. In 1959, the Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri founded a company, Editions MAT, an abbreviation for Multiplication d’Art Transformable, to make multiples (Spoerri is credited with introducing the term) of an artist’s three-dimensional objects in limited editions of one hundred signed replicas. Along with Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, and others, Man Ray agreed to collaborate. The first collection was of kinetic pieces, including Man Ray’s dangling Lampshade, made of white painted aluminum, and Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs. Later, Man Ray in 1965 contracted for Spoerri to make an edition of one hundred signed copies of Object to Be Destroyed—which, since its new abundance assured immortality, he renamed Indestructible Object. (In 1971, he modified the object by attaching a double-printed photograph of the eye that seemed to open and close as it moved. This version he called Perpetual Motif.) A conceptual artist allied with Duchamp, who famously disparaged “retinal art,” Man Ray approved intellectually of this scheme that could earn him badly needed money. He had long maintained that he was more committed to securing the reproduction of his paintings in books than to preserving the original work. Believing that it was the idea and not the execution that mattered, he hated the cult that surrounded the provenance of an artwork. When he was asked if one of his photographs was a vintage print, he bristled: “One would think they were interested in what was considered the best vintage years 141

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of wines.”13 But even more than in other art genres, in conceptual art it matters who came first. Duchamp had pioneered the form of artist’s multiples in 1935, when he made five hundred six-piece sets of double-sided paperboard discs, with a total of twelve lithographed spiral patterns, intended to be rotated on a turntable. These Rotoreliefs were descendants of the optical experiments he conducted with glass plates in the 1920s, notably in the experiment that might have decapitated Man Ray. The reproducibility of the sets constituted another undermining of the aura of uniqueness and originality of a work of art, extending the challenge Duchamp had issued with his readymades. During the years leading up to the war, from 1935 to 1941, Duchamp further developed this notion with La Boîte-en-valise (Box in a Valise), a brown leather suitcase that held sixty-nine miniatures of his best-known artworks, including Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 and Fountain. He made twenty-four as gifts for friends, including Katherine Dreier, the erstwhile patron of the Société Anonyme, and Peggy Guggenheim, a current patron, who helped fund the project and received the first box. Ultimately, he would produce about three hundred of them, in seven editions with slightly different contents. It was a way of composing a comprehensive collection of his work, a goal that was important to him. So when the Milan publisher and gallerist Arturo Schwarz approached Duchamp and Man Ray, two of his favorite artists, about manufacturing limited-edition replicas of their readymades and objects, respectively, the two close friends signed contracts, but with motives that were at slight variance. What they could agree on was a need for money. Although Duchamp maintained a lifelong indifference to generating income, professing that financially successful artists were really businessmen, his monasticism became less rigid by his midseventies. For one thing, he now had a wife, Alexina “Teeny” Matisse (the former wife of Henri’s son, the art dealer Pierre Matisse), whom 142

Cadeau (Gift), 1921

Jean Cocteau, 1922

Object to Be Destroyed, 1932

Rayograph (Pipe, necklace, lemon, mushroom), 1923

Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924

Lee Miller, 1929

Noire et blanche, 1926

Larmes (Tears), c. 1931

Terrain vague, 1929

Anatomies, c. 1930

La Prière, 1930

Érotique voilée, 1933

Solarized Profile Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, c. 1930

Ady (Adrienne Fidelin), 1938

A l’heure de l’observatoire—Les Amoureux, 1932–34

Le Beau Temps, 1939

Juliet, California, 1945

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he wed in 1954, and whose material wants he needed to consider. According to Jean-Jacques Lebel, the son of Duchamp’s close friend and first biographer, Robert Lebel, Teeny promoted the collaboration with Schwarz, disgruntled that her husband’s bank account was not growing in proportion to his revived reputation.14 Much like Duchamp, Man Ray felt that “to be successful, art must be unsellable.”15 By that definition, he was extremely successful, because his finances were even more precarious than Duchamp’s. Schwarz’s offer was providential. But aside from their shared desire for solvency, Duchamp and Man Ray viewed the opportunity differently. Duchamp regretted the loss of half of his fourteen readymades, from the teens and early twenties, which had been inadvertently destroyed. Over the years, he endorsed with his nonjudgmental signature any and all reproductions, which sometimes barely approximated the appearance of the prototypes. In granting Schwarz the sole right to reproduce the original readymades, in versions as close as possible to the vanished pieces, the hyper-acute Duchamp recognized the irony in the situation. The phrase “original readymade” is an oxymoron. To produce a readymade, Duchamp had signed his name and usually affixed an imaginative title to a mass-produced item purchased at the hardware store. The situation was a little more complicated with the subcategory known as “assisted readymades,” where he combined two standardized objects, but the same principle held. His core criterion in selecting these components was their “visual indifference.” Going to extreme lengths to reproduce a machine-made object that lacked aesthetic distinction was ludicrous. For Duchamp, a connoisseur of the absurd, that constituted much of the project’s charm. To simulate the oldstyle urinal that Duchamp had christened Fountain and submitted to the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in 1917, Schwarz employed an industrial draftsman to make three technical drawings, based on the Stieglitz photograph, to construct 143

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a terra-cotta model, and then shut down production for a day at a sanitary-ware factory near Como to fabricate the twelve (ten plus two artist proofs) glazed ceramic pieces in the edition. “I am very pleased with the fanatical care with which Schwarz has succeeded in reproducing the Ready-mades,” Duchamp said in 1967.16 Schwarz worked with Duchamp on the reproduction of the readymades for just a year, between 1964 and 1965. (Earlier, from 1962 to 1963, they had joined forces on a limited edition of four erotic objects: Objet-Dard, Feuille de vigne femelle, Not a Shoe, and Coin de chasteté.) Schwarz’s collaboration with Man Ray went on longer. They signed their first contract on November 17, 1963, for a signed and numbered edition of ten of Cadeau. Man Ray had Spoerri search the flea markets of Paris for old-fashioned irons that resembled the one in the lost original, but he eventually conceded that they wouldn’t look like the early version, or even like each other. Things were easier the next year, when all they needed were wooden hangers to reproduce Obstruction. Schwarz presented a solo Man Ray show from March 14 to April 3, 1964, which was Man Ray’s first retrospective in twenty years. It required the new production of replicas to supplement the other displayed objects—either original, uniquely reproduced, or previously editioned—for a total of thirty-one. Man Ray and Juliet traveled on a night train from Paris to Milan to attend the opening. Schwarz gave Man Ray a second solo exhibition from June to September 1971, after signing a contract earlier that year in which he paid Man Ray eight thousand dollars to make an edition of ten (plus two artist’s proofs for Man Ray and one for Schwarz) of eight objects, including The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse (1920) and Vénus restaurée (1936). Making editions of Man Ray objects posed questions very different from those raised by the reproduction of Duchamp’s readymades. The readymades initially existed in the world as 144

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commodities—indistinguishable from their commonplace brethren, except that, thanks to Duchamp’s intervention, they bore a title and an artist’s signature. These attributes elevated them into the world of art, or, conversely, demystified and downgraded that exalted sphere. Duchamp said that the production of artisanal facsimiles of the mass-produced readymades constituted a “mirrorical return” to the concepts of authorship and authenticity that underlay their creation. Certainly, it perpetuated the dizzying mind games that he relished. In more basic terms, though, the editioned replicas, however they were manufactured, reproduced the experience of having a bottle rack or shovel in the room. Man Ray’s objects fell into two categories. From the outset of his career, even before his move to Paris, he made Dada objects, which, like Duchamp’s readymades, functioned as sculptures—three-dimensional forms that occupied space. They were visual jokes. Sometimes the witticism was a transposing of materials, as with Export Commodity, the ball bearings in an olive jar. More often, it was a verbal pun, such as Le Manche dans la manche (1921), a hammer handle in a bottle. (In French, the same word, manche, means “handle” or “sleeve,” depending on its gender; for the artist, the sexual suggestiveness of placing a phallic tool inside a receptacle enhanced the wordplay.) He continued this practice, relying increasingly on puns: Pain peint, a plastic baguette painted blue; the mounted bedspring, It’s Springtime; or Ballet français, a broom erected on a pedestal (the French word for broom, balai, is a homophone for ballet). Schwarz could reproduce these as he did Duchamp’s readymades. But Man Ray’s most telling artistic departure from Du­ champ’s readymades was not (despite his claim) that he combined or altered his mass-produced source material. Duchamp at times did that, too. Where Man Ray broke new ground was with his moodily lit photographs that took an everyday item, such as an eggbeater, and transformed it into something singu145

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lar and eerie. Many of his early objects, including The Enigma and Vénus restaurée, existed only as photographic renderings; after taking the picture, Man Ray would discard what he had assembled. The editioned replicas of the blanketed sewing machine and the bound plaster torso turned these mysterious objects into souvenir trinkets. Just as he fell short of his friend’s absolute disinterest in material comforts, Man Ray was also more concerned than Duchamp about the survival of his artistic reputation. In response to a questionnaire from the Société Anonyme in 1949, he claimed that he would “as gracefully as possible leave the decision to my contemporaries and to posterity, if the work survives; which I sincerely hope it won’t. I have no interest in future generations.”17 But that was a pose. He complained constantly that he was misjudged and his contributions misunderstood. “I am as sensitive to praise and appreciation as I am refractory to adverse criticism,” he admitted in a more honest moment, writing to an editor who had expressed admiration for his work.18 The commercial replication of his objects advanced both his solvency and his legacy. When the question arose of imitating himself, he once again differed from Duchamp, who debunked the notion of originality yet refused to copy his own achievements. Once, when Man Ray transmitted an offer by the venerable art dealer Roland Knoedler of a ten-thousand-dollar annual stipend in return for one painting a year, Duchamp, having abandoned the practice of painting decades earlier, merely smiled and said “he had accomplished what he had set out to do and did not care to repeat himself.”19 Man Ray, by the time he turned fifty and moved to Los Angeles, was already recycling old ideas. In the same Société Anonyme questionnaire in which he disavowed any interest in posterity, he asserted forcefully that he wanted, even more than developing a style distinct from others, “above all, to paint unlike myself, so that each succeeding work, or series of works, shall be entirely different from 146

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preceding works.”20 At other times, however, he used an idiosyncratic definition of “repetition,” and distinguished this practice from the copying of others. “I don’t like to repeat,” he said. “What others have already done well I cannot do better. From the start, repeating doesn’t suit me.”21 But he justified self-­ plagiarism as the reward for his innovations. “It is permitted to repeat oneself as much as possible,” he wrote in unpublished notes during his Hollywood years. “Nothing is more legitimate and more satisfactory. So long as you do not repeat others. Work until you have developed one single manner that is you, and no one else.”22 Since moving to Paris, he told an interviewer in 1980, he got out very little; and while, in his youth, he had been influenced by predecessors and contemporaries, now he need only glimpse the work of another to understand it immediately without any need to look at it further. “I shut myself in, I isolated myself, I no longer wanted to rely on anyone but myself,” he said.23 Man Ray didn’t scruple too much that the replica be faithful to the original. In January 1964, having completed the laborious accumulation of flatirons for Cadeau, he wrote to Schwarz: “As for the making of replicas of certain objects, it would be as difficult as making duplicates of paintings, and it would bore me even if I had the time to do so.”24 Schwarz, not Man Ray, pressed for rigor—insisting, for example, on placing a sewing machine under the blanket for the edition of The Enigma, even though Man Ray told him it didn’t matter as long as the form was correct. When books illustrated his work, Man Ray—who had a high regard for the immortality of the printed page— wanted early photographs of the original objects, and not pictures of the replicas. Yet he took a pragmatic view of the commercial enterprise of editioned multiples, acknowledging that the replicas “cannot be exactly like the originals but we can preserve the spirit.”25 And if the spirit of the work perished a little to meet the demands of his (and Juliet’s) body, so be it. 147

15 The Shadow of Death

Marcel and Teeny Duchamp had gotten into the habit of spending part of the summer in a rented apartment in Cadaquès, the picturesque Catalan fishing village that was Dalí’s base of operations. While Teeny swam, Marcel, who never learned how, played chess in a café in the center of town. In the summer of 1968, Man Ray and Juliet visited. Man Ray was not at home in the water, either, paddling about awkwardly. He jested that he swam like a typewriter.1 He too preferred smoking in cafés. Man Ray and Duchamp had visited Dalí together in Cadaquès for the first time in 1933. Along with his marriage to Juliet, the half-century friendship with Duchamp was the abiding relationship of Man Ray’s life. Whereas Juliet worshipped and ministered to him, he and Duchamp enjoyed the camaraderie of equals. That autumn, the Duchamps came to Paris, staying in an apartment that Marcel had inherited from his sister, Suzanne, in the affluent suburb of Neuilly. On the evening of October 1,

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1968, they hosted a small dinner for Duchamp’s good friend Robert Lebel, an art historian who wrote on Dada and Surrealism, and his wife, Nina, and the Man Rays. Teeny cooked pheasants. In the course of the night, Duchamp revealed to Lebel that he had been experiencing sharp chest pangs. Still, despite signs of illness, he seemed in good form. He had bought a book of jokes that day, and he read some of them aloud to appreciative laughter. It was a little past midnight when the party broke up. About 1 a.m., a short while after Man Ray and Juliet arrived at their home by the Luxembourg Gardens, the telephone rang. It was Teeny. She had been concerned that Marcel’s preparations for bed were taking unusually long and entered the bathroom, only to discover him lying dead on the floor. He appeared to have died instantly. On his face was a slightly pleased smile. What might have gone through Man Ray’s mind on hearing this shocking news? Was it Duchamp’s quip, one that would serve as his tombstone epitaph: “Besides, it is always the others who die”? Was it any of the innumerable memories of their shared times since that tennis game in New Jersey, played without a net, and neither able to speak the other’s language? Whatever thoughts assailed Man Ray did not stop him from acting immediately. He gathered up his camera and tripod and rushed back to Neuilly.2 Forty-six years had elapsed since a summons from Cocteau brought him to the deathbed of Proust, a literary luminary he never knew. The portrait he made of the writer, white bedclothes drawn up to his dark beard, conformed to a tradition that went back at least as far as seventeenth-century Netherlands painting. In deathbed photography, the looming landmark was the portrait of Victor Hugo by Nadar in 1885. A recent transplant both to France and to the practice of photography, Man Ray probably didn’t know that picture, but Cocteau would have been familiar with it. It is possible—though this is merely 149

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conjecture—that he may have shown it to Man Ray as a model for how to depict the writer who had inherited Hugo’s mantle as the greatest in France. When Nadar photographed Hugo he was elderly himself, and now so was Man Ray. Setting up his camera to make a final image of his best friend, he by this time was a master photographer who was certainly knowledgeable about Nadar. (Although, with an artist’s characteristic reticence about citing the influence of any great predecessor, he left no record of his thoughts on Nadar.) The portraits of Hugo and Duchamp share formal similarities. In place of the even light that suffused the face of Proust, a patch of sunlight illuminates Duchamp’s broad, noble brow, along the lines (but with less Baroque éclat) of Nadar’s deathbed scene. Because Duchamp lacked Hugo’s voluminous beard, which hid the sag of an aged neck, Man Ray improvised by placing a dark cloth (a ribbon or necktie) under his friend’s chin. It was a tailor’s trick, one that came naturally to him, his birthright. Like Nadar’s, Man Ray’s portrait shows the dead man with his head propped up against the pillow and his aquiline nose thrusting into space. But Nadar, as was his style, brought theater into his photograph, directing light from a mirror placed at the top of a half-curtained window to illuminate every strand of the beard and every fiber of the linens in an otherwise darkened room. Hugo’s silenced head is circled with a white halo of light. It was a suitably Romantic send-off to the giant of Romantic writers. Man Ray’s effort is less bravura. The head, the bedclothes, and the wall combine in grays and soft billowing whites, not the deep blacks and finely detailed, dazzling whites of Nadar. “You see, too many photographers believe naively that the blacks—the beautiful blacks as they say—give strength,” Man Ray once explained. “As a matter of fact, blacks no more give strength to a photograph than ‘strong’ drink gives strength to a man.”3 If Nadar’s Hugo re-creates the chiaroscuro of Cara150

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vaggio, Man Ray’s Duchamp, like his Proust, brings to mind the sober, tender sickbed portrayals of Munch. He took the picture, and then he put it away. It doesn’t appear in his roster of photographs, and it was never exhibited or published in his lifetime. Instead, in the studio on rue Férou, he centrally displayed a photograph, shot in that room, which showed him and Duchamp smiling together (at least Man Ray is smiling; Duchamp wears the enigmatic expression he took to the grave) as they examine something on a piece of paper, with a portable chessboard in front of them. Duchamp has a cigar in his hand. It looks like a snapshot taken by a friend—which it is, but by a very talented friend. Henri Cartier-Bresson made the photograph in 1968, the year of Duchamp’s death. Its provenance remained semi-hidden until long after both Man Ray and Cartier-Bresson had died. Although not listed in CartierBresson’s catalogue, it was alluded to by Man Ray at least once, in an interview with the Italian critic known as Janus.4 What mattered was what it displayed: the relaxed familiarity of two friends who have shared a lifetime of conversation and affection. The deathbed photograph, which Man Ray stored in a box and may not have looked at again, played another role. It established Duchamp in a line of immortelles. It validated the legacy, not the life. Contributing to a Duchamp memorial issue of Art in America the following year, Man Ray wrote: On October 1st about midnight Marcel closed his eyes and passed away With a little smile on his lips His heart had obeyed him and had ceased beating As formerly his work stopped Ah yes it is tragic as an endgame in chess   I shall not tell you any more.5

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“Tragic mate.” That phrase had reverberated in Man Ray’s mind when Adon Lacroix was betraying him, soon after his friendship with Duchamp commenced. This defection was far more tragic. Man Ray, as he approached his eightieth year, was very concerned with his own legacy and similarly bound by discretion. In winter 1961, he had resumed work on a long-planned memoir, which to close friends he termed ma légende.6 He gave it the title Self-Portrait, one he had previously used for the painted piece of wood on which he mounted two bells, a pushbutton, and a handprint. It will be recalled that pressing the button on that piece produced no sound. He conceived of his autobiography, begun on his 1951 voyage to Paris and then continued sporadically for over a decade, as a comparably elliptical effort. But steady, gentle pressure from his American publisher succeeded in eliciting a more straightforward narrative, seasoned with anecdotes and facts, to illuminate his development as an artist and his acquaintance with fellow artists. He came clean about the humbleness of his background, if not his ethnic origins. He described in detail the affair with Kiki, skipping lightly over his liaison with Lee Miller, a more painful relationship (and with a lover still living). He vigorously promoted his paintings over the photography that art critics preferred, believing to the last that painting was the superior medium. Enough time had passed for Dada and Surrealism to be revived in the museums, and with that renaissance came a renewed interest in Man Ray. In 1968, William S. Rubin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, organized an exhibition, “Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage,” which traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. But the glory was shadowed by what Man Ray took to be disdain. He fretted that critics believed his best days were past. “Rubin in his book says I did 152

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nothing after the Dada period!” he griped in a letter to Schwarz.7 More satisfactory was an eightieth birthday show organized in New York at the Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery in 1970, a miniretrospective that included some of his most celebrated works, including The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, Le Beau Temps, Catherine Barometer, the Violon d’Ingres photograph of Kiki, and La rue Férou. When it was reviewed by James R. Mellow in the New York Times, however, the paintings were judged to be hampered by Man Ray’s reverence for the painting tradition, and therefore less original than the objects and photographs. A larger museum retrospective in 1971 showed at the Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the Louisiana Museum in Denmark. To Man Ray’s great disappointment, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which had planned to take the exhibition to the city of the artist’s birth, backed out, citing a shortage of funds. It was some compensation when, at the end of 1974, the New York Cultural Center, at Columbus Circle, put together a huge Man Ray retrospective, under the direction of Mario Amaya, its energetic young director, with the collaboration of Roland Penrose. One Times critic, John Russell, declared that “justice has been done” for “one of the most remarkable Americans of his generation.” A different viewpoint was expressed by the other Times art critic, Hilton Kramer, who deemed Man Ray to be “a minor figure” in the orbit of Duchamp and “essentially devoid of an original gift of his own.” Kramer deplored most of the painting and the objects, with a particularly scathing condemnation of the editioned objects, judging that project to be “as crass in its commercialism as it is nil in esthetic interest.” He deepened the wound by adding that Man Ray had produced “work of a consistent quality and interest” only in the field of photography, and he would be “remembered primarily as a photographer.” For the elderly artist, these intellectual slights were exacer153

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bated by physical pangs. The bill was coming due for years of heavy smoking, little physical exercise, and frigid home temperatures. As early as the 1960s, Man Ray was plagued by lower back and hip pain that forced him to spend days in bed. Bursitis afflicted his shoulders. When walking, he relied on two sticks, one in each hand, drawn from his large collection of canes. Alternatively, he leaned heavily on Juliet. In the spring of 1975, when the New York Cultural Center exhibition arrived in London at the Institute for Contemporary Art, the organization cofounded by Penrose, he greeted the guests from a wheelchair. Poor circulation to the extremities, complicated by arthritis, had crippled him. Lee Miller—who was now formally known as Lady Penrose, following Roland’s knighthood for service to the arts in 1966—knelt so they could carry on a conversation at the opening. Toward the end of Man Ray’s life, he required a taxi to travel even a short distance to lunch at the café on the next street. Always better appreciated in his adoptive country than in his native land, Man Ray was awarded the Order of Artistic Merit by France in late August 1976, just before he turned eighty-six. Along with honors, he was drawing substantial earnings, for the first time since his commercial heyday as a photographer for fashion magazines and advertising campaigns in the 1930s. His belated success tasted bittersweet. “When Julie and I were hungry, this money wasn’t there,” he told a younger American friend, who visited him in Paris in fall 1976. “It’s all come too late. I don’t know what to do with this now. I’ve forgotten how to spend it.”8 In mid-November, afflicted by shortness of breath, he was brought to a private clinic, but after three days, he asked to return home. He understood no more could be done for him. When he woke up the next day, Juliet saw him struggling to draw air. Later that morning, on November 18, he died in her arms. He was eighty-six. 154

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He had outlived his old friends from the now-hallowed Montparnasse years. Breton, Picabia, Tzara, Kiki, Ernst, Paul and Nusch Éluard, and, most grievously, Duchamp—were all gone. Miller, unwell in England, would die the next year. A small group, including his assistant, Lucien Treillard, and the art dealers Jack Mayer and Marcel Zerbib, attended the funeral at Montparnasse Cemetery, then accompanied Juliet to a lunch at Chez Alexandre. As the biographer Neil Baldwin has observed, Man Ray would have been pleased that the obituary that appeared the next day in the New York Times identified him, beneath a picture on the front page, as the “American painter and photographer,” giving primacy to his brush over his camera. Less to his liking, however, would have been the full story inside, which grudgingly conceded that “Man Ray won a certain admiration for his talents while compiling a more solid reputation as a photographer with a genius for illuminating the essential character of his subjects.” So he was being remembered not even as the ingenious innovator of rayographs and solarization, but as a portrait photographer! And when it came to painting, according to the writer of the obituary, Alden Whitman, Man Ray— notwithstanding his “versatility and inventiveness”—was said to be “fundamentally indebted” to other artists. And here, Whitman named half a dozen, with Duchamp coming first. The grave remained unmarked for many years. Man Ray hadn’t instructed Juliet on an epitaph. How could she make such a choice on her own? But for the tenth anniversary of his death, she arrived at a decision. On a flattened oval of stone, a shape she derived from his Flat Egg sculpture, she placed as an inscription one of his favorite remarks: “Unconcerned but not indifferent.” Five years later, she joined him there.

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The Afterlife

In 2004, introducing an exhibition of Man Ray’s work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Lars Nittve, the museum’s director, wrote that the artist’s “various strategies and practices appear ever more contemporary as the years go by.”1 Man Ray would have been pleased but not surprised by this appraisal. “I have several mediums at my finger-tips,” he said, late in his life. “Photography was just as incidental as my painting was, or writing, or making sculptures, or just talking.”2 Earlier, looking back in Los Angeles at his former life in Paris, he wrote, “For twenty years my studio in Paris was the center of a diversified activity. Moving-pictures, painting, photography branching out in new directions, contraptions Dadaistic, surrealistic.”3 Freely crossing back and forth between painting, photography, film, object-making, and writing, he only lacked bona fides as a performance artist to be the model of a contemporary multidisciplinary practitioner. And even there, his contributions to Dada

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evenings might qualify him. He can also take credit for photographs that are records of a quasi-performance, such as one he took of Duchamp in 1921 with a tonsure in the form of a star, or the self-portrait he made in 1943 in which the right side of his face is bearded and the left is clean-shaven. The enormous (and still growing) posthumous reputation of his best friend has cast shade on Man Ray’s legacy. Duchamp is arguably the most influential artist of the twentieth century. He is considered the progenitor of appropriation art, language art, even performance art and minimalism—in short, of most varieties of conceptual art that characterize our postmodern age. Man Ray, despite his frequent avowals of the supremacy of the idea over its execution, sometimes comes off as Duchamp’s technically proficient wingman, especially in his use of the camera to document the Frenchman’s playful turns and ephemeral works. He can seem to be embroidering within the framework that Duchamp established. Man Ray would be chagrined to know that almost half a century after his death, he is remembered primarily as a photographer. The elevation of photography to be coeval with painting and sculpture might assuage his feelings a bit, but not fully. Unlike Duchamp, who gave up painting when he felt that he had accomplished all he could with that form, Man Ray never stopped believing that the painter topped the chain of artistic being. Another way he differed from Duchamp: he was competitive. The giants of the French art world, Picasso and Matisse, were painters first and foremost. Man Ray measured himself against them, and, as they did, in comparison with their great predecessors, such as Goya, Manet, and Cézanne. If price tags can be taken as indicators of value, Man Ray’s painting has garnered greater recognition in recent years. His important paintings fetch important sums at auction. Promenade, a colorful Synthetic Cubist painting from 1916, brought $5,877,000 at Sotheby’s New York in November 2013. As a very 157

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fine precursor of his masterpiece The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, Promenade is a landmark in Man Ray’s career, with an understandably high valuation. But in February 2019, at Sotheby’s London, Femmelaharpe, another brightly colored canvas from 1957 that, at over five feet high, is undeniably large but also much less significant, brought the sizable sum of £1,575,000. The even larger painting Images à deux faces, from 1959, of two heavily lipsticked women about to kiss, a protoPop painting, went for €2,416,750 at Sotheby’s Paris in May 2012. Much smaller, but from a more fecund period in Man Ray’s career, The Rug (1914), a Cubist work he made when living with Adon Lacroix in Ridgefield, New Jersey, depicting two intertwined figures and a guitar, realized a price of $519,000 at ­Sotheby’s New York in May 2019. In another genre, one of his most important surviving objects, Catherine Barometer (1921), went for $3,252,500 at Christie’s New York in November 2017. It is impossible to map the historical appreciation of Man Ray’s photographs by a similar monetary metric because of the shambolic management of his estate. After her husband’s death, Juliet, who was debilitated by failing eyesight, struggled to manage his archive. Man Ray, in many ways a traditional husband, had made such decisions himself. Loath to be alone, she welcomed a stream of visitors into the studio, and an untold number of prints and other valuable art objects flowed out with the stream. Because Man Ray hadn’t left an accurate inventory of photographs, no one can determine how many were lost. Although he had kept a meticulous record, on index cards, of his paintings, that disappeared, too, and the outlook for any clarity in assessing his career became even murkier. Many years later, one of his nieces serendipitously saw the box of index cards in a Paris gallery, and it is now safely ensconced in the Pompidou Center. But the output of photographic prints is uncharted. Juliet depended on her husband’s studio assistant, Lucien Treillard, to manage exhibition requests and supervise sales of 158

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photographs. Treillard produced exhibition prints for display in museum and gallery shows, because there were too few vintage prints to meet the growing demand. The problem arose when it came to collectors. By marking the backs of these and other photographs with ink-stamps that Man Ray had employed for authentication, and by using old paper, Treillard blurred the distinction between lifetime and posthumous prints. Although the artist himself had derided those classifications, in the years following his death the art market for photography exploded. The prices paid for prints that an artist made himself or personally supervised vastly exceeded the value of prints produced posthumously. If dealers were unable to reliably determine the date of a photograph, only pictures with a long-standing and clear provenance could be guaranteed as vintage, and the sales of other prints suffered. Partly because of their scarcity, when prints of iconic ­images with a long ownership history come to market, they ­command stratospheric prices. The private sale of a version of Larmes (c. 1932) to the San Francisco collector John A. Pritzker for a reported $1.3 million in 1999 made it at the time the most expensive photograph ever to change hands. That price was eclipsed by the astounding price of $2,167,500 paid at Christie’s New York in May 2017 for a hand-colored print from 1936, Portrait of a Tearful Woman. It had been owned by Robert Mapplethorpe, who was a great admirer of Man Ray. “I think that of all the photographers who’ve existed, certainly in this century, Man Ray is the most important because he kicked around photography in a way that hadn’t been done before,” Mapple­ thorpe said at the end of his life.4 (His secondhand aura probably added to the value of this photograph, because a virtually identical image, also with a reliable ownership history, went at Sotheby’s Paris five months later for only €751,500.) The tearful woman in turn was outdone a few months later by the November 2017 sale at Christie’s Paris of the celebrated “Noire et 159

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Blanche,” a print that Jacques Doucet had purchased in 1926, the year it was made, on the advice of André Breton. Man Ray worked laboriously on the print, combining four negatives to produce it. The Christie’s Paris photography specialist called it “the most ‘perfect’ interpretation of Man Ray’s vision.” It brought €2,688,750, a record for a classic photograph. Most Man Ray photographs lack such clear-cut lineage. Upon Juliet’s death, control of the artist’s estate transferred to her four brothers and their children.5 The Browner brothers lacked any experience with the art world. To pay French estate taxes of $4.1 million, the family in 1994 donated some 12,000 glass negatives and 5,000 contact prints, valued at over $2 million, to the Pompidou Center.6 They raised the amount still owed, and then some, in an auction the following year at Sotheby’s London. That sale included a few early paintings, notably Promenade, and one of the two best paintings Man Ray made during his prewar years in Paris, Le Beau Temps. But the bulk of the offerings were photographs, both artist portraits and Surrealist subjects, as well as editioned objects, signed lithographs, and various sketches that were little more than doodles. Still, of 599 lots, all but 5 sold, for a total of nearly $6 million. The estate’s remaining holdings went into 16 freezer-sized vaults at the Long Island car repair garage that was owned and operated by one of Juliet’s brothers. The family tried to interest a museum in purchasing these residual holdings, but the asking price of $20 million attracted no nibbles. So in November 2014, the Browners auctioned off at Sotheby’s Paris much of what they still owned; the 270 lots brought in about €2.7 million, although this time, nearly a third went unsold. Substantial as they are, all of these prices are dwarfed by the €8.9 million, in the 2009 auction at Christie’s Paris of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, for “Belle haleine—Eau de voilette,” Duchamp’s unique doctored perfume

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bottle with a label that features his drag portrait as photographed by Man Ray. But to contrast Man Ray with his best friend on the basis of prices, especially as Duchamp was the least materialistic of men, would be wrongheaded. Their long-standing bond was unsullied by rivalry or envy. Man Ray had a rare gift for friendship. Like most of us, he was different with different people. More than most of us, he was impossibly difficult to see and read head-on. In his work as in his life, he was a chameleon, changing colors with willful abandon. Refraction suits him. It is my hope that, composed of fragments that are arrayed against different backgrounds, in this short life of a long productive life, a whole portrait of Man Ray has emerged.

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acknowledgments

Man Ray: American Artist, a full-scale biography by Neil Baldwin, which was published in 1988, incorporates the testimony of many of Man Ray’s relatives and close friends. It remains an invaluable starting point for anyone investigating Man Ray’s life. Francis Naumann has written exhaustively and authoritatively on the artist, especially about Man Ray’s early years. Wendy Grossman has broken ground on Man Ray’s involvement with African art and his relationship with Ady Fidelin. In addition to drawing on their published work, I have benefited from the attentiveness of all three authors to my inquiries. I have cited other important scholarly sources in my notes. Stephanie Browner, Juliet Man Ray’s niece, facilitated my research by putting me in contact with people who could help my project. Pierre-Yves Butzbach, who oversees photo reproduction for the Man Ray Trust, provided unflagging and generous assistance. The New York University Library and the New

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acknowledgments

York Institute for the Humanities, particularly its director, Eric Banks, and program director, Melanie Rehak, smoothed the path for my research. I am indebted to my editor, Ileene Smith, for suggesting Man Ray as a subject who would engage me, and for her editorial suggestions and support. At Yale University Press, I am also grateful to Heather Gold and Eva Skewes. As always, I benefit enormously from the counsel of my literary agent, Elyse Cheney. Almost every author depends on the supportive forbearance of friends to hear out questions, problems, and frustrations that arise in the course of writing a book. I would like to express my appreciation to Jane Berentson, Tim Bush, Sharon Cooke, James Gavin, Helen Hershkoff, David Holahan, Gwen Kinkead, Larry Mark, Gail Monaghan, Tom Moore, Diane Pearl, Jason Royal, Harriet Shapiro, Mark Stevens, James Stewart, Jean Strouse, Annalyn Swan, Kyn Tolson, and Brenda Wineapple. David Hollander has been a mainstay for half a century. The most involved, encouraging, and prodding input came from Wendy Lesser, to whom I dedicate this book.

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notes

Introduction 1. Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination (New York: Rizzoli, 1977), 234.

Chapter 1. The Radnitsky Clan 1. Man Ray, Self Portrait (1963; repr., Boston: Little, Brown, 1988), 28. 2. Neil Baldwin, Man Ray: American Artist (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1988), 309–10. 3. Sanche de Gramont, “Remember Dada—Man Ray at 80,” New York Times Magazine, September 6, 1970, 27. 4. Roland Penrose, Man Ray (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975), 9. 5. Carl I. Belz, “The Role of Man Ray in the Dada and Surrealist Movements” (PhD diss., Princeton University, 1963), 1. 6. Man Ray, “Pepys Diary,” reprinted in Jennifer Mundy,

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notes to pages 12–31 ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2016), 376. 7. Francis M. Naumann, Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 127. 8. Schwarz, Man Ray, 77.

Chapter 2. Alfred Stieglitz and the Avant-Garde 1. Although Man Ray writes that his first 291 exhibition was the Cézanne watercolors show of March 1911, his memory deceived him, because he recalls also seeing Rodin drawings there. The only two Rodin drawings exhibitions at 291 were held in January 1908, in March to April 1910, and as part of a group show in November to December 1910. All predate the Cézanne. 2. William Innes Homer, Alfred Stieglitz and the American Avant-Garde (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1977), 296–97; Man Ray, Self Portrait, 25. 3. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 25. 4. Paul Hill and Thomas Cooper, Dialogue with Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979), 11. 5. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 25. 6. Man Ray, “Impressions of 291,” Camera Work, no. 47 (January 1915): 61, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 26. 7. C. Lewis Hind, Art and I (New York: John Lane, 1921), 181. 8. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 55.

Chapter 3. Adon 1. In Minotaure, nos. 3–4 (December 12, 1933), reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 109. 2. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 52. 3. Schwarz, Man Ray, 32. 4. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 79. 5. Gramont, “Remember Dada,” 27.

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notes to pages 34–42

Chapter 4. Charles Daniel 1. Schwarz, Man Ray, 136. 2. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 65. 3. Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 31, 35. 4. Schwarz, Man Ray, 39. 5. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” in Jean-Hubert Martin, ed., Man Ray: Photographs (1982; repr., New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991), 35. 6. Schwarz, Man Ray, 39. 7. Ibid., 50. 8. Belz, “The Role of Man Ray,” 95. 9. Irmeline Lebeer, “Man Ray Fautographie,” L’Art Vivant, no. 44 (November 1973), interview translated and reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 438. 10. Francis M. Naumann, “Man Ray, 1908–1921: From an Art in Two Dimensions to the Higher Dimension of Ideas,” in Merry Foresta et al., Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray (New York: Abbe­ ville Press, 1988), 64. 11. “Questionnaire about Admiration of the Orchestrelle for the Cinematograph,” 1954, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 392–93. 12. Man Ray to Ferdinand Howald, April 5, 1922, reprinted in ibid., 78. 13. MR to Ferdinand Howald, May 28, 1922, reprinted in ibid., 83.

Chapter 5. Marcel Duchamp 1. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” 35. 2. Alfred Kreymborg, Troubadour: An Autobiography (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925), 239. 3. Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp (New York: Da Capo, 1987), 48. 4. Michael R. Taylor, “Eros Triumphant,” in Jennifer Mundy, ed., Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia (London: Tate Publishing, 2008), 157.

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notes to pages 42–50 5. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 77. 6. In “Bilingual Biography,” which was published in the March 1945 issue of View, a special issue devoted to Duchamp, Man Ray made the connection explicit, writing, “Société Anonyme Incorporated; Fair, cold but warmer, as indicated by my special device, Catherine Barometer, very reliable.” Reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 321. 7. Francis M. Naumann, New York Dada, 1915–23 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1994), 48; David Hopkins, “Male Poetics,” in Mundy, ed., Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, 87. 8. Pierre Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray (Paris: Editions Pierre Belfond, 1972), 64–65. My translation in all citations. 9. Jean-Marie Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse (Paris: Editions Hazan, 1995), 138. My translation in all citations. 10. Martin, ed., Man Ray: Photographs, 23. 11. Schwarz, Man Ray, 234. 12. Although Man Ray in his memoir described the flyaway device so that it unequivocally evokes Rotary Demispheres (Precision Optics), Dawn Adès convincingly argues that he confused it with Rotary Glass Plates, which unlike Demispheres was made in New York. Dawn Adès, “Camera Creation,” in Mundy, ed., Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, 222 n. 48. There is a 1920 photograph by Man Ray of Rotary Glass Plates (Precision Optics) in Man Ray, Photographs (London: Thames and Hudson), 46. See also Jean-Michel Bouhours and Patrick de Haas, Man Ray, directeur du mauvais movies (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1997), 11. 13. Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, 64. 14. Reprinted in facsimile in Bouhours and de Haas, Man Ray, directeur du mauvais movies, 8. 15. Billy Klüver and Julie Martin, “Man Ray, Paris,” in Foresta, Perpetual Motif, 89.

Chapter 6. Tristan Tzara and Francis Picabia

1. Naumann, New York Dada, 36. 2. Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse, 125. 3. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 34. 168

notes to pages 50–65 4. John Bainbridge, Another Way of Living: A Gallery of Americans Who Choose to Live in Europe (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968), 26. 5. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 34. 6. Ibid., 11. 7. Klüver and Martin, “Man Ray, Paris,” in Foresta, Perpetual Motif, 102. 8. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 96. 9. Matthew Josephson, Life among the Surrealists (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962), 109. 10. Schwarz, Man Ray, 186. 11. Klüver and Martin, “Man Ray, Paris,” in Foresta, Perpetual Motif, 128. 12. Man Ray had given himself the same sobriquet about a month before coming to Paris, in a letter to Tzara that included frames from failed films, including the shaving of the pubic hair of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Elizabeth Hutton Turner, “Transatlantic,” in Foresta, Perpetual Motif, 150. See below. 13. Man Ray to Katherine Dreier, February 20, 1921, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 61–62. 14. Man Ray to Ferdinand Howald, April 5, 1922, reprinted in ibid., 78–79. 15. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 106. 16. Man Ray to Arturo Schwarz, January 12, 1971, in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 427. 17. Jean Cocteau, “Lettre ouverte à M. Man Ray, photographe américain,” in Les Feuilles libres (Paris, April–May 1922), 134–35, reprinted in Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais, Man Ray: Rayographies (Paris: Editions Léo Scheer, 2002), 166.

Chapter 7. Everybody Who Rated as Somebody 1. Schwarz, Man Ray, 285. 2. Hill and Cooper, Dialogue with Photography, 18. 3. Bainbridge, Another Way of Living, 26. 4. Interview with Daniel Masclet, quoted in Schwarz, Man Ray, 285. 169

notes to pages 65–75 5. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 30. 6. Terence Pepper, “Man Ray in Print,” in Man Ray Portraits (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 22. 7. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 131. 8. Schwarz, Man Ray, 283. In Gramont, “Remember Dada,” 30, he says his stilted portrait of the poet Anna de Noailles is his worst of all. 9. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” 35. 10. Hill and Cooper, Dialogue with Photography, 17. 11. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” 38. 12. Ibid. 13. Martin, Man Ray: Photographs, 212 n. 331. 14. Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1959), 112. 15. John P. Jacob, ed., Man Ray: Trees + Flowers, Insects, Animals (Göttingen, Germany: Steidl, 2009), 211, 181, 199, respectively. The tower of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois is misidentified as the Tour Saint-Jacques. The boulevard de Raspail photograph is not in the book. 16. Ian Walker, City Gorged with Dreams: Surrealism and Documentary Photography in Interwar Paris (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), 117. It is reproduced in Jacob, ed., Man Ray: Trees + Flowers, 25. The uncropped version is on page 24.

Chapter 8. Kiki 1. Billy Klüver and Julie Martin, eds., Kiki’s Memoirs (New York: Ecco Press, 1996), 147. 2. Herbert R. Lottman, Man Ray’s Montparnasse (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 100. 3. Klüver and Martin, eds., Kiki’s Memoirs, 19–20. 4. Billy Klüver and Julie Martin, Kiki’s Paris: Artists and Lovers, 1900–1930 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1989), 174. 5. Gramont, “Remember Dada,” 30. 6. Wendy A. Grossman and Steven Manford, “Unmasking Man Ray’s Noire et blanche,” American Art 20, no. 2 (Summer 2006): 134–47. 170

notes to pages 75–93 7. Klüver and Martin, eds., Kiki’s Memoirs, 50. 8. Francis M. Naumann, “Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924,” in The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection (New York: Steidl and Pace/McGill Gallery, 2009), n.p. 9. José Pierre, ed., Investigating Sex: Surrealist Research, 1928– 1932 (1992; repr., London: Verso, 2011), 29. 10. Klüver and Martin, Kiki’s Paris, 208.

Chapter 9. André Breton and Paul Éluard 1. Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse, 132. 2. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 214. 3. André Breton, Surrealism and Painting, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (Boston: MFA Publications, 2002), 82. 4. Ibid., 83. 5. Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse, 138. 6. Man Ray’s first artistic allusion to the vagina dentata came in Danger/Dancer (1921), a painting in which three cogwheels form a triangle. As depicted, the gears will not move and consequently castration will not take place. 7. Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse, 138. 8. Ibid., 132. 9. Mark Polizzotti, Revolution of the Mind (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995), 324.

Chapter 10. Lee Miller 1. Mario Amaya, “My Man Ray: Interview with Lee Miller,” Art in America 63 (May–June 1975): 59. 2. Phillip Prodger, “Lee Miller and Man Ray: The Ultimate Surrealist Object,” in Prodger, ed., Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism (London: Merrell, 2011), 34. 3. Carolyn Burke, Lee Miller: A Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 128. 4. Martin, Man Ray: Photographs, 186. 5. Amaya, “My Man Ray,” 59.

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notes to pages 93–112 6. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 138. 7. Amaya, “My Man Ray,” 57. 8. Schwarz, Man Ray, 282. 9. Ibid., 215. 10. Ibid., 228. 11. Facsimile reproduced in Prodger, Man Ray/Lee Miller, 102–3. 12. Seabrook’s most outrageous credential was his account of sharing human flesh at a communal cannibal feast. Like sexual sadism, cannibalism was a subject of fascination to the Surrealists. 13. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 156. 14. Prodger, Man Ray/Lee Miller, 55. 15. This Quarter 5, no. 1 (September 1932): 55, reprinted by Kraus Reprint Company, New York, 1967. 16. Prodger, Man Ray/Lee Miller, 98, 112, 113; Antony Penrose, Lives of Lee Miller (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985), 41. 17. Burke, Lee Miller: A Life, 128. 18. Prodger, Man Ray/Lee Miller, 61. 19. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 200. 20. Mundy, ed., Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, 68. 21. Martin, Man Ray: Photographs, 133. The cover photograph he used is reprinted as the cover of this book. 22. Schwarz, Man Ray, 61. 23. Burke, Lee Miller: A Life, 176. 24. Man Ray to Roland Penrose, May 19, 1940, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 73.

Chapter 11. Meret Oppenheim 1. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 203. 2. Ibid., 202. 3. Ibid., 203. 4. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade: Duchamp, Man Ray, and the Conundrum of the Replica (London: Routledge, 2018), 123. 5. Edouard Sebline, “The Lucid Hand: Seeing Mathematical Forms through Man Ray’s Lens,” in Wendy A. Grossman and 172

notes to pages 113–31 Edouard Sebline, eds., Man Ray: Human Equations (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2015), 23. 6. Josef Helfenstein, “Against the Intolerability of Fame: Meret Oppenheim and Surrealism,” in Jacqueline Burckhardt and Bice Curiger, eds., Meret Oppenheim: Beyond the Teacup (New York: Independent Curators Incorporated and D.A.P., 1996), 25. 7. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 259.

Chapter 12. Juliet Browner 1. Bainbridge, Another Way of Living, 27. 2. Ibid., 26–27. 3. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 262. 4. Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, De Kooning: An American Master (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 115. 5. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 264. 6. Ibid., 263. 7. Dickran Tashjian, Man Ray: Paris/L.A. (Los Angeles: Smart Art Press, 1996), 54. 8. Man Ray to Elsie Ray Siegler, September 24, 1942, reprinted in Mundy, ed, Man Ray: Writings on Art, 234. 9. Tashjian, Man Ray: Paris/L.A., 125 n. 27. 10. Man Ray to Julien Levy, September 7, 1944, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 271. 11. Tashjian, Man Ray: Paris/L.A., 22.

Chapter 13. William Copley 1. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 287. 2. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, “Humanizing the Object: Man Ray’s Subversion of Classical and Mathematical Models,” in Grossman and Sebline, eds., Man Ray: Human Equations, 160. 3. William N. Copley, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dealer,” in Klaus Gerrit Friese, William N. Copley: Among Ourselves (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2009), 133. 4. Man Ray to Elsie Ray Siegler, May 18, 1954, quoted in Baldwin, Man Ray: American Artist, 298.

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notes to pages 131–46 5. Schwarz, Man Ray, 124. 6. Minicam Photography, October 1943, cited in J. Paul Getty Museum online roster, http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects /46738/man-ray-dead-leaf-american-1942/. 7. “Photography Is Not Art,” published in April 1943, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 245. 8. “An Interview with James and Barbara Byrnes,” in Tashjian, Man Ray: Paris/L.A., 119. 9. Copley, “Portrait of the Artist,” in Friese, William N. Copley: Among Ourselves, 105.

Chapter 14. Man Ray’s Own Shadow 1. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 295. 2. G. Y. Dryansky, “Historic Houses: The Man Ray Studio,” Architectural Digest, November 1982, 185. 3. Copley, “Portrait of the Artist,” in Friese, William N. Copley: Among Ourselves, 111. 4. Ginger Danto, “In Paris, a Room of Man Ray’s Own,” New York Times, January 6, 1991, H33. 5. Ibid. 6. Schwarz, Man Ray, 324. 7. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 299. 8. Ibid., 302. 9. Man Ray to James Thrall Soby, January 22, 1934, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 115. 10. Gramont, “Remember Dada,” 7. 11. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 70. 12. Emmanuelle de l’Ecotais and Alain Sayag, Man Ray: Photography and Its Double (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press, 1998), 242. 13. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 303. 14. Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade, 50. 15. Drot, Les Heures chaudes de Montparnasse, 128. 16. Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade, 159. 17. Man Ray, “Untitled Statement,” 1950, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 347. 174

notes to pages 146–60 18. MR to George Leite, November 16, 1944, reprinted in ibid., 291. 19. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 187. 20. Man Ray, “Untitled Statement,” 1950, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 347. 21. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 22. 22. Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade, 111. 23. Bourgeade, Bonsoir, Man Ray, 106. 24. Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade, 216. 25. Ibid., 302.

Chapter 15. The Shadow of Death 1. Amaya, “My Man Ray,” 58. 2. Donald Shambroom, Duchamp’s Last Day (New York: David Zwirner Books, 2018), 36–39. Shambroom’s account is the source of most of the detail on Man Ray and Duchamp’s final encounter and Man Ray’s subsequent reflections on their friendship. 3. Schwarz, Man Ray, 285. 4. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” 38. 5. Reprinted by permission of the Man Ray 2015 Trust. 6. Baldwin, Man Ray: American Artist, 312. 7. Kamien-Kazhdan, Remaking the Readymade, 121. 8. Baldwin, Man Ray: American Artist, 362.

Epilogue 1. Man Ray (Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 2004), 5. 2. Janus, “Interview with Man Ray,” 37. 3. MR to George Leite, November 16, 1944, reprinted in Mundy, ed., Man Ray: Writings on Art, 292. 4. Janis Bultman, “Bad Boy Makes Good,” Darkroom Photography, July 1988, 29, quoted in Robert Mapplethorpe et al., Mapplethorpe: Perfection in Form (Kempen, Germany: TeNeues, 2009), 194. 5. Kelly Devine Thomas with Nicholas Powell, “The Surreal Legacy of Man Ray,” ARTNews (June 2002): 100–112; Kelly

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notes to page 160 Crow, “The Surreal Selling of Man Ray,” Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2012. 6. ARTNews says five thousand contact prints, the Wall Street Journal six thousand. The Wall Street Journal values the bequest to the Pompidou at $2.5 million.

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index

Abbott, Berenice, 3–4, 68–69, 76 Amaya, Mario, 153 Apollinaire, 59 Aragon, Louis, 78 Arensberg, Louise, 124 Arensberg, Walter, 39, 40–41, 124 Armory Show, New York City, 17–18, 33, 36, 39 Art in America, 151 Art Informel, 135 Art Institute of Chicago, 152 Atget, Eugène, 67–68 Atkins, Anna, 56 Auric, Georges, 59   Bacon, Francis, 1 Baldwin, Neil, 155 Barbie, Stanley, 129 Barr, Alfred, 111, 112 Beach, Sylvia, 65, 69 Bellows, George, 9 Bey, Aziz Eloui, 99, 100, 103

Blind Man, The (periodical), 20 Boiffard, Jacques-André, 69, 83, 84 Boys High School, Brooklyn, 8 Brancusi, Constantin, 16, 81 Brandt, Bill, 69 Braque, Georges, 18, 33, 63, 64 Breton, André, 24, 44, 47, 58, 92, 108, 155, 160; Congress of Paris, 81; Galerie Ratton exhibition of, 110–111, 112; love affairs of, 85; relationship with MR, 81–82, 83, 88; rupture with Dada, 60, 80, 81; titling of artworks, 109, 111, 127 Broca, Henri, 78–79 Browner, Juliet, 39; background of, 118–119; death of, 160; decline and death of MR, 154, 155; dependence on MR, 120, 131–132, 135, 136, 158; and estate of MR, 158–159; love affair with de Kooning, 119; love affair with Man Ray, 4–5, 119–120; move to Paris, 134;

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index Browner, Juliet (continued ) Paris life of, 136–138; travels with MR, 123, 126, 127, 144; wedding of, 124 Buffet-Picabia, Gabrielle, 54 Buñuel, Luis, L’Age d’or, 85, 92–93 Byrnes, James, 132, 133   Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 61 Cahiers d’Art, 112 Calder, Alexander, 74–75 Camera Work, 15 Camille (film), 72 Cantor, Paul, 120 Carrington, Leonora, 103, 124 Cartier-Bresson, Henri, 151 Casati, Luisa, 65–66 Cézanne, Paul, 16 Chaplin, Charlie, 99 Circle Gallery, Los Angeles, 123 cliché verre technique, 36 Cocteau, Jean, 59, 60, 81, 85, 149; and MR’s photographic portraiture, 53–54, 62–63 collages, 33, 37 Copley, William, 120, 136; gallery of, 5, 128–130; move to Paris, 134; patron of MR, 131, 133 Cordier & Ekstrom Gallery, New York, 153 Crowninshield, Frank, 66 Cunard, Nancy, 62   Dada: Les Chants de Maldoror, 56; exhibitions of, 140; in New York, 49, 58; origins of, 61; in Paris, 3, 49–53; revival of, 152–153; Soirée du coeur à barbe revue, 58–60; vs Surrealism, 58, 60, 80–81 Dali, Elena Ivanovna Diakonova (“Gala”), 86–87, 123 Dalí, Salvador, 86–87, 117; The Great Masturbator, 96 Daniel, Charles, 32, 34, 37 Daniel Gallery, New York, 32–34, 36–37 deathbed photography, 53, 149–151 Deharme, Lise (Meyer), 85

Delacroix, 18 Desnos, Robert, 83 Doucet, Jacques, 82, 160 Dove, Arthur, 17 Dreier, Katherine, 42, 43, 45, 55, 142 Duchamp, Alexina Matisse (Teeny), 142–143, 148, 149 Duchamp, Marcel, 1, 132; on American art, 50; collaborative friendship with MR, 3, 39, 40, 41–48, 49, 59, 148–149, 151; death of, 149, 155; deathbed photograph of, 149–150, 151; erotic subjects of, 41–42; film of spinning glass plates, 46–47; legacy of, 146; marriage to Teeny Matisse, 142–143; in New York, 125, 126, 129, 133, 134; New York studios of, 41, 43, 134; photography of ephemeral creations, 47–48; physical appearance of, 40; prices of works, 160–161; readymades of, 44, 45, 142, 143; replicas of readymades, 142–144; and selftransformation, 47–48 Duchamp, Marcel, works: Bicycle Wheel, 44; La Boîte-en-valise, 142; Bottle Dryer, 111; Chocolate Grinder, No. 2, 41, 43; Coin de chasteté, 144; Étant donnés, 134; Feuille de vigne femelle, 144; Fountain, 20–21, 44, 143–144; Fresh Widow, 47; Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even), 40–41, 43; Not a Shoe, 144; Nude Descending a Staircase, 39, 40, 142; ObjetDard, 144; Rotoreliefs, 141, 142   Eddy, Arthur Jerome, 33, 34, 41 Editions MAT, 141 Éluard, Maria Benz (“Nusch”), 85, 86–87, 126–127, 155 Éluard, Paul, 24, 155; death of wife, 126–127; friendship with MR, 85–86; love affairs of, 85, 86–87; poetry of, 87; rupture with Dada, 60

178

index Ernst, Max, 132, 155; and Copley Gallery, 129; love affairs of, 86, 103, 107–108, 123–124; marriage to Dorothea Tanning, 124; on Oppenheim, 111 erotic photography, 77–78, 87 Everling, Germaine, 49, 53 exhibitions: Armory Show (New York), 17–18, 33, 36, 39; of Dada, 140, 152–153; at Daniel Gallery (New York), 32–34, 36–37; at Librairie Six (Paris), 51–53; in Los Angeles, 5, 122–123, 130–131, 132; Museum of Modern Art shows, 58, 103, 111, 112, 152–153; museum shows in California, 123; solo shows, 19, 144, 153, 154; of Surrealist art, 81–82, 99–100, 103, 110–111, 112, 123, 152–153; at 291 Gallery (New York), 16–17, 33   fashion photography, 54, 66–67, 90 Ferrer (Francisco) Center, New York City, 2–3, 9, 22 Fidelin, Adrienne (Ady), 103, 104, 114, 115, 116, 120, 125 Flaubert, Gustave, 138 Foujita, Tsuguharu, 72 Freytag-Loringhoven, Elsa von, 59   Galerie de l’Institut, Paris, 140 Gardner, Ava, 120–121 George, Yvonne, 83 Giacometti, Alberto, 85, 107, 108 Glackens, William, 27 Goddard, Jacqueline Barsotti, 101 Gorky, Arshile, 119 Greenberg, Clement, 34 Gris, Juan, 63 Guggenheim, Peggy, 123–124, 142   Halpert, Samuel, 23, 24 Hartley, Marsden, 17, 20 Hemingway, Ernest, 64, 75 Henri, Robert, 9 de Herrera, Gloria, 133, 134 Howald, Ferdinand, 19, 31, 37–38, 48, 55

Hugo, Victor, deathbed photograph of, 149–151   Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique, 18, 77 Institute for Contemporary Art, London, 154 Institut Henri Poincaré, 111–112, 127 International Exposition of Surrealism, Paris, 51–52 Iolas, Alexander, 129   Jones, Jennifer, 121 Joyce, James, 64–65   Kantor, Harry, 118, 119 Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), 3, 4, 83, 102, 152; background of, 72; breakup with MR, 78–79; celebrity status of, 75–76, 79; death of, 79, 155; in films of MR, 76–77; as model, 72, 74–75, 77–78, 91; sexual liaisons of, 72–73, 74, 78–79; volatile temperament of, 73–74 Kisling, Moise, 72 Knoedler, Roland, 146 de Kooning, Willem, 119 Koons, Jeff, 77, 78 Kramer, Hilton, 153 Kreymborg, Alfred, 23, 32, 41   Lacroix, Adon, 119; A Book of Divers Writings, 26; marriage to Adolf Wolff, 22–23, 24; marriage to MR, 3, 23–31, 34, 42 Lamba, Jacqueline, 85 landscape photography, 69–70, 92–93 Lautréamont, Comte de (Isidore Ducasse), 24–25, 56–57, 81 Lebel, Robert, 143, 149 Leger, Fernand, 76, 132 Levy, Julien, 78, 99, 103, 122, 140 Lewin, Albert, 120, 124 Lewin, Millie, 124 Lewis, Sinclair, 65 Librairie Six exhibitions, 51–53

179

index Littérature magazine, 44, 50, 81 Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession (291 Gallery), 14–17, 19, 33 Little Review, The, 58 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 123, 132, 152   Maar, Dora, 104, 110, 114, 122 Magritte, René, 129, 138; Les Amants, 84 Mallet-Stevens, Robert, 84 Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 85, 110 Man Ray: aerograph paintings of, 35–36, 53; ambition of, 157; art training of, 2–3, 8–10; birth of, 2, 6–7; characterized, 1–2, 12, 73–74; as chess player, 29, 41, 42, 43, 151; childhood memories in works of, 12–13; collages of, 33, 37; critical appraisal of works, 153–154, 155, 156; and Dada, 3, 49–53, 80; death of, 5, 154, 155; death of Duchamp, 149–152; Duchamp’s collaborative friendship with, 3, 39, 40, 41–47, 49, 59, 134, 148–149, 151; education of, 8; escape from Germanoccupied France, 114–116; estate of, 158–160; ethnic identity of, 12, 114; family background and relationships, 6–8, 9–13; finances of, 54, 121, 131–132, 133, 135, 140, 141, 143; health of, 154; honors and recognition to, 154, 155; legacy of, 5, 146–147, 152, 155, 156–157; Los Angeles patrons of, 131, 132, 133–134; Los Angeles works of, 120–122, 127–128, 130–131; love affair with Adrienne Fidelin (Ady), 103, 104, 114, 115, 116, 120; love affair with Kiki (See Kiki de Montparnasse); love affair with Lee Miller (See Miller, Lee); marriage to Adon Lacroix, 3, 23–31, 34, 42; marriage to Juliet Browner (See Browner, Juliet); memoir of, 152; in Montparnasse artist com-

munity, 3, 51, 68, 72, 75, 79; move to Los Angeles, 4–5, 11, 118, 119, 122; move to Paris, 3, 5, 48, 49, 133–134, 135; movie job of, 132; name change of, 7, 11–12; New York studios of, 23, 27, 28, 43; Paris lifestyle of, 137–138; Paris studios of, 67, 135–137; patrons of, 19, 31, 33, 34, 37–38, 39, 55, 131, 132, 133–134; postwar style of, 138–139, 146–147; prices of works, 131, 157–158; re-creation of abandoned works, 121–122; replicas of works of, 141, 142, 143, 144–146, 147; retrieved works of, 125–127; return to New York, 116, 117; return to Paris, 79, 126, 133–134, 135; in Ridgefield, New Jersey artists’ colony, 23–24, 25, 26, 27, 39, 158; sexual initiation of, 24; sexual violence of, 30, 97–98; stencil use by, 35; and Surrealist artists, 80–83, 85–86; Surrealist objects of, 123; titles of works, 39–40, 45 Man Ray, Juliet Browner (wife). See Browner, Juliet Man Ray, photography of, 5, 157; abandonment of, 141; archive of, 158; of artworks of his own, 19–21, 46, 49; of artworks of others, 53, 63, 64; Atget’s influence on, 67–68, 69; collaboration with Éluard, 87; deathbed of Duchamp, 149–151; deathbed of Proust, 53, 149; of Duchamp’s Large Glass, 43–44; of ephemeral creations, 47–48; erotic, 77–78, 87; fashion, 54, 66–67, 90; as income source, 4, 5, 63, 67, 90; Kiki as model for, 74–75, 77–78; landscapes, 69–70, 92–93; Lee Miller as model for, 91–92; Los Angeles works, 131; of mathematical models, 111–113, 127; movie-star portraits, 120–121; portraiture, 61–66; prices of prints, 158–160; rayographs, 54–55, 56,

180

index 57–58, 59, 82, 130, 139; of readymade objects, 44–45, 145–146; sadomasochistic scenes in, 98–99; self-portrait, 130; for Société Anonyme, 42; solarization process in, 94–95, 99–100; Stieglitz’s influence on, 20–21; Surrealist images, 87–88, 111–112; “unconcerned photographs,” 139 Man Ray, works, films: Emak Bakia, 76–77, 83; L’Etoile de mer, 83–84; Les Mysteres du chateau de Dé, 84–85; Le Retour a la raison, 59–60, 76, 83, 91 Man Ray, works, paintings and objects: AD MCMXIV, 26; Admiration of the Orchestrelle for the Cinematograph, 36; A l’heure de l’observatoireLes Amoureux, 102–103, 104, 121, 122, 131; Ballet Français, 145; Le Beau Temps, 13, 104, 113, 121, 153, 160; Black Widow, 12, 19; Boardwalk, 140; A Book of Divers Writing, 18–19; By Itself I and By Itself II, 45; Cadeau, 52, 110, 144, 147; Catherine Barometer, 43, 53, 153, 158; Chinese Theatre, 33; Le Dernier homme sur terre, 121; The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse, 57, 81, 138, 144, 146, 147; Export Commodity, 53, 145; La Femme et son poisson II, 121; Femmelaharpe, 158; Flying Dutchman, 46; La Fortune, 121, 122; Hamlet, 128; L’Homme infini, 121, 122; Images a deux faces, 158; An Imaginary Portrait of D.A.F. de Sade, 97–98, 121; Indestructible Object, 123; It’s Springtime, 137, 145, 146; Lampshade, 45–46, 49, 62, 141; Legend, 121; Le Manche dans la manche, 145; Man Ray in 1914, 27; The Merchant of Venice, 128; Moving Sculpture, 46; Night Sun-Abandoned Playground, 122; Object to Be Destroyed (Indestructible Object), 100, 102, 140, 141;

Obstruction, 46, 130, 144; Othello, 128; Pain Peint, 145; Perpetual Motif, 141; Portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, 18; Priapus Paperweight, 53; Promenade, 12–13, 122, 157, 158, 160; La Quadrature, 113; The Revolving Doors, 33, 37, 121; The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows, 2, 6, 12, 19, 20, 33, 153, 158; La rue Férou, 138, 153; The Rug, 158; Self-Portrait, 33–34; Shakespearean Equations series, 127–128, 130, 131, 132; Suicide, 30; Trans atlantique, 53; Vénus restaurée, 144, 146; La volière, 12–13; The Wall, 104. Man Ray, works, photographs: Anatomies, 87, 92, 109; Autumn, 78; Boule de neige, 99; Les Champs délicieux collection, 58, 82; Coat Stand, 50, 67; Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe restaging, 85, 110; Dust Breeding (“View taken from an aeroplane, 1921”), 44; Érotique voilée, 108–109; Explosante-fixe, 88, 109; Human Equations, 111–113, 127; Integration of Shadows, 45; Larmes (“Glass Tears”), 88, 159; Man, 45, 49–50; Minotaure, 87–88; Monument à D.A.F. de Sade, 91–92; New York, 53; Noire et blanche, 75, 159–160; Photographs by Man Ray (collection), 102; La Prière, 91, 92; The Primacy of Matter over Thought, 95–96; Space Writing, 88; Suicide, 101; Terrain vague, 70; Le Violon d’Ingres, 77, 153 Mapplethorpe, Robert, 159 Marcoussis, Louis, 108–109, 114 Martin, Ira, 66 Matisse, Henri, 16, 18, 23, 81, 134 Mayer, Jack, 155 Mellow, James R., 153 Mendjizky, Maurice, 72 Milhaud, Darius, 59, 132

181

index Miller, Lee, 69, 152, 155; background of, 90; breakup with MR, 100–103; as fashion model, 90–91; first meeting with MR, 89; lasting friendship with MR, 4, 103–104, 105, 154; marriages of, 103–104; as model for MR, 91–92; as photographer, 91, 92–94, 99, 100; photographic collaboration with MR, 93–96; sexual independence of, 93, 96–97, 99, 100; sexual violence in relationship with MR, 97–98; solarized portrait of, 99–100; as wartime photojournalist, 104–105 Miró, Joan, 1, 64 Moholy-Nagy, László, 55, 56 Mondrian, Piet, 1 Montparnasse, artist community of, 3, 51, 68, 72, 75, 79 Mundy, Jennifer, 102 Museum of Modern Art, 36, 139; Atget archive at, 69; “Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage” exhibit, 152–153; Fantastic Art exhibit, 58, 103, 111   Nadar, 149, 150–151 Naumann, Francis, 12 New York Camera Club, 15 New York Cultural Center exhibition, 153, 154 New York Dada, 48, 50 New York Times, 153, 155 New York Times Magazine, 11 New York Tribune, 36, 50 Nittve, Lars, 156 Noailles, Charles and Marie-Laure de, 84   O’Keefe, Georgia, 43 Oppenheim, Meret, 3, 123; background of, 107; Breakfast in Fur, 109–111, 113; Ma gouvernante-my nurse-mein Kindermädchen, 113; as model for MR, 108–109; sexual liberation of,

106; and threat of anti-Semitism, 113–114

  Pach, Walter, 40 Penrose, Roland, 11–12, 103–104, 127, 153, 154 Peret, Benjamin, 78 Perls, Frank, 122–123 Perls (Frank) Gallery, 122 Philadelphia Museum of Art, 153 photograms, 54–58 photography: cameraless (photograms), 54–58; cliche berre technique, 36; deathbed, 53, 149–151; of Stieglitz, 15, 18, 19–20, 143–144; Surrealist, 82–83, 92–93; at 291 Gallery, 3, 14–17; Woman, 45, 49–50; Woman Smoking a Cigarette, 50, 82 Photo-Secession, 14 Picabia, Francis, 1, 39, 48, 104, 155; and Dada, 52; on mechanical methods, 36; mentor to MR, 53–54 Picasso, Pablo, 16, 17–18, 33, 60, 81, 110, 114, 122; Demoiselles d’ Avignon, 75; MR’s photographic portrait of, 63 Ployardt, John, 128–129, 133 Poiret, Paul, 54, 66 Pollock, Jackson, 1 Pompidou Center, 160 Pound, Ezra, 64 Pritzker, John A., 159 Proust, Marcel, deathbed photograph of, 63, 149, 150   Quinn, John, 63   Ratner, Noma, 134 Ray (Radnitsky), Dora (sister), 7, 10, 74 Ray (Radnitsky Siegler), Elsie (sister), 7, 10, 11, 117, 122 Ray (Radnitsky), Jennie (sister), 6 Ray (Radnitsky), Manny (Emmanuel). See Man Ray Ray (Radnitsky), Max (father), 6, 7, 10, 11

182

index Ray (Radnitsky), Minnie (mother), 6, 7, 10, 11 Ray (Radnitsky), Samuel (brother), 7, 10, 11 rayographs, 54–55, 56, 57–58, 59, 82, 130, 139 readymades: assisted, 44, 46, 52, 53, 110, 143; Dada objects, 145; of Duchamp, 44, 45, 142, 143–144; mobile sculpture, 45–46; photographic renderings of, 44–45, 46, 145–146; replicas of, 142–146, 147 La Révolution surréaliste magazine, 67, 81, 82–83, 92 Reynolds, Mary, 125–126 Richter, Hans, 132 Ridgefield, New Jersey artists’ colony, 23–24, 25, 26, 27, 39, 158 Ridgefield Gazook, 41 Rigaut, Jacques, 76 Rimbaud, Arthur, 62 Roché, Henri-Pierre, 63 Rodin, Auguste, 16 Rosenberg, Léonce, 53 Rousseau, Henri, 16, 69 “Rrose Sélavy” persona of Duchamp, 47 Rubin, William S., 152–153 Russell, John, 153   Sacher-Masoch, Leopold von, 110 Sakier, George, 75 “Salon Dada: Exposition Internationale,” 49–50 Satie, Erik, 52, 59 Schad, Christian, 55 Schadographs, 55–56 Schiaparelli, Elsa, 110 Schwarz, Arturo, 52, 138, 142, 143–144, 147, 153 Seabrook, Marjorie, 98 Seabrook, William, 98 Société Anonyme, 42, 46, 146 Society of Independent Artists, 20, 143 solarization (Sabattier effect), 94–95, 99–100

Solidor, Suzy, 94 Soupault, Philippe, 25, 50, 51, 59, 82 Soutine, Chaim, 72 Spoerri, Daniel, 141, 144 Staller, Ilona, 77 Steichen, Edward, 14–16, 54, 90 Stein, Gertrude, 64, 66 Stendahl, Earl, 120 Stieglitz, Alfred: art purchases of, 18–19; and Duchamp, 40; photograph of Duchamp’s Fountain, 20–21, 143–144; photography of, 15, 18, 19–20; and 291 Gallery, 3, 14–17 Stothart, Mary, 132 Stravinsky, Françoise, 130 Stravinsky, Igor, 59, 119 Surrealism: vs Dada approach, 80–81; exhibitions, 81–82, 99–100, 103, 110–111, 112, 123, 152–153; and film, 76–77, 83–85; MR’s evolution to, 80–88; Oppenheim’s Surrealist objects, 109–111, 113; and photography, 82–83, 92–93, 111–112; revival of, 152–153; rupture with Dada, 58–60; sexual obsession of, 61, 67, 78, 91; sexual relationships among artists, 85–87; and women artists, 113   Talbot, William Henry Fox, 56 Tanning, Dorothea, 124, 129 Toklas, Alice, 64, 66 Treillard, Lucien, 141, 155, 158–159 291 Gallery, 14–17, 19, 33 Tzara, Tristan, 48, 49, 51, 81, 82, 155; Dada revue of, 58–60; MR’s photographic portrait of, 61–62; provocateur image of, 61–62; Schadographs, naming of, 55–56   Uccello, Paolo, 26   Vanity Fair, 58, 66 Varèse, Edgard, 27

183

index Vassilieff, Marie, 71 Vogue, 75, 90, 99, 104   Warhol, Andy, 140 Wescher, Paul, 120 Wheeler, Arthur and Rose, 76 White, Clarence, 15

Whitman, Alden, 155 Wolff, Adolf, 22–23, 24 Wolff, Esther, 22, 24, 25, 30 Woolf, Virginia and Leonard, 65   Zerbib, Marcel, 155 Zervos, Christopher, 112

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Jewish Lives is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences. Subjects are paired with authors to elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present. Jewish Lives is a partnership of Yale University Press and the Leon D. Black Foundation. Ileene Smith is editorial director. Anita Shapira and Steven J. Zipperstein are series editors.

published titles include: Rabbi Akiva: Sage of the Talmud, by Barry W. Holtz Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel, by Anita Shapira Judah Benjamin: The Brains of the Confederacy, by James Traub Bernard Berenson: A Life in the Picture Trade, by Rachel Cohen Irving Berlin: New York Genius, by James Kaplan Sarah: The Life of Sarah Bernhardt, by Robert Gottlieb Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician, by Allen Shawn Hayim Nahman Bialik: Poet of Hebrew, by Avner Holtzman Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist, by Pierre Birnbaum Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet, by Jeffrey Rosen Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent, by Paul Mendes-Flohr David: The Divided Heart, by David Wolpe Moshe Dayan: Israel’s Controversial Hero, by Mordechai Bar-On Disraeli: The Novel Politician, by David Cesarani Einstein: His Space and Times, by Steven Gimbel Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, by Adam Phillips Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life, by Vivian Gornick Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One, by Mark Kurlansky Peggy Guggenheim: The Shock of the Modern, by Francine Prose Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures, by Adina Hoffman Heinrich Heine: Writing the Revolution, by George Prochnik Lillian Hellman: An Imperious Life, by Dorothy Gallagher Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader, by Derek Penslar

Houdini: The Elusive American, by Adam Begley Jabotinsky: A Life, by Hillel Halkin Jacob: Unexpected Patriarch, by Yair Zakovitch Franz Kafka: The Poet of Shame and Guilt, by Saul Friedländer Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution, by Yehudah Mirsky Stanley Kubrick: American Filmmaker, by David Mikics Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, by Liel Leibovitz Primo Levi: The Matter of a Life, by Berel Lang Groucho Marx: The Comedy of Existence, by Lee Siegel Karl Marx: Philosophy and Revolution, by Shlomo Avineri Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam, by Steven Nadler Moses Mendelssohn: Sage of Modernity, by Shmuel Feiner Harvey Milk: His Lives and Death, by Lillian Faderman Moses: A Human Life, by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg Proust: The Search, by Benjamin Taylor Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman, by Itamar Rabinovich Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman, by Shulamit Volkov Man Ray: The Artist and His Shadows, by Arthur Lubow Jerome Robbins: A Life in Dance, by Wendy Lesser Julius Rosenwald: Repairing the World, by Hasia R. Diner Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel, by Annie Cohen-Solal Gershom Scholem: Master of the Kabbalah, by David Biale Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream, by Michael Shnayerson Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom, by Steven Weitzman Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films, by Molly Haskell Alfred Stieglitz: Taking Pictures, Making Painters, by Phyllis Rose Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power, by Neal Gabler Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary’s Life, by Joshua Rubenstein

Warner Bros: The Making of an American Movie Studio, by David Thomson forthcoming titles include: Franz Boas, by Noga Arikha Mel Brooks, by Jeremy Dauber Alfred Dreyfus, by Maurice Samuels Elijah, by Daniel Matt Anne Frank, by Ruth Franklin Betty Friedan, by Rachel Shteir George Gershwin, by Gary Giddins Allen Ginsberg, by Ed Hirsch Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Dorothy Samuels Herod, by Martin Goodman Abraham Joshua Heschel, by Julian Zelizer Jesus, by Jack Miles Josephus, by Daniel Boyarin Louis Kahn, by Gini Alhadeff Maimonides, by Alberto Manguel Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, by Kenneth Turan Golda Meir, by Deborah E. Lipstadt Arthur Miller, by John Lahr Robert Oppenheimer, by David Rieff Ayn Rand, by Alexandra Popoff Sidney Reilly, by Benny Morris Hyman Rickover, by Marc Wortman Philip Roth, by Steven J. Zipperstein Edmond de Rothschild, by James McAuley Ruth, by Ilana Pardes Jonas Salk, by David Margolick

Rebbe Schneerson, by Ezra Glinter Baruch Spinoza, by Ian Buruma Henrietta Szold, by Francine Klagsbrun Elie Wiesel, by Joseph Berger Billy Wilder, by Noah Isenberg Ludwig Wittgenstein, by Anthony Gottlieb