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July 14, 2023

Masks by Man Ray

Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky, the eldest child of Russian Jewish immigrants in Pennsylvania. Due to frequent antisemitic reactions and discrimination, in around 1912 the Radnitzky family changed their surname to Ray, chosen by one of the artist’s brothers, while Emmanuel, who was called “Manny”, changed his first name to Man.

AndrĂ© Breton once described him as a pre-Surrealist. Although he held a natural affinity for the style and as early as 1920 his work had Surrealist undertones, his ties with the movement were rather informal. He was strongly influenced by Dada and Marcel Duchamp, who also often featured in Ray’s photography.

Although American, he spent most of his career in France, painting and photographing, which for him symbolized the gap between art and life. Apart from photography for its own sake (inventing his own technique of making photograms, which he called “rayographs“), he also created loads of commercial photos for the film and fashion industries. Some of them also include Man Ray’s masks as you can see below.


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