MAN RAY: American Artist by Neil Baldwin

MAN RAY: American Artist

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A major biography of the painter/photographer/film-maker/sculptor who, born Emmanuel Radnitsky in Philadelphia, became a leading international figure of the Surrealist movement as ""Man Ray."" The eldest child of an immigrant Russian-Jewish garment worker and his overbearing wife, Man Ray was raised in Brooklyn. From his childhood onward he was consumed by a passion for art. Barely out of his teens, he was already moving in the avant-garde artistic circles of New York, studying with Robert Henri and frequenting Alfred Stieglitz's 291 Gallery. In 1915, he met Marcel Duchamp; an intense friendship sprang up between the two, one that lasted until Duchamp's death in 1968. Prompted by Duchamp, Man Ray set off for Paris in 1921, where he lived, except during WW II, for the rest of his life. Though he regarded himself primarily as a painter, his reputation as a photographer soared. He was sought out by the leading figures of the time, producing portraits of Stein, Joyce, Matisse, Picasso, and a welter of society types. The fact that his camera work overshadowed his paintings was a lifelong source of annoyance to Ray. It was only toward the end of his career that his paintings and sculptures were fully appreciated as masterpieces of the period. With a sure hand, Baldwin (To All Gentleness: William Carlos Williams, the Doctor Poet, 1984) captures the Parisian, New York, and Hollywood scenes with evocative anecdotes, and sketches the personalities of the main players in his subject's life. There are several inaccuracies in the text, however (e.g., Raymond Radiguet did not kill himself, as Baldwin states; the young author died of typhoid); but quibbles aside, this is a constantly intriguing portrait of a complex and often maddeningly secretive master of 20th-century art.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1988
ISBN: 030681014X
Publisher: Potter--dist. by Crown