Man Ray 1945-1998
Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde (1999 documentary)
As part of the PBS American Masters series, Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde covers the life and artwork of this innovative modern artist with both clips of interviews and archival footage of the times he lived in. Born in Brooklyn as Emanuel Radnitsky, he grew discouraged by the New York art world of the early 1900s, changed his name to Man Ray, and moved to Paris. He was embraced by the Dadaists, many of whom later became Surrealists. Although painting was his main love, he took up photography, making portraits of famous people such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Henri Matisse. He developed a new technique, the rayograph, in which he placed objects directly onto paper and exposed them to light. He even made an avant-garde film with this technique. Whether creating Dada sculptures, such as his famous iron with a row of tacks enigmatically entitled Le Cadeau, The Gift, innovative photographs, films, or sculptures, Man Ray always managed to surprise. In order to earn a living, he turned fashion photography into art. After living in California and New York during World War II, he returned to live and work in Paris after the war. Included in this program are wonderful shots of his Paris studio and home. Just under an hour long, this program presents a good look at a remarkable artist. The DVD format also includes an essay by Neil Baldwin, his biographer and author of the script, which underlines the influence of the women in his life. The crispness of the images and the intelligent insights into the ideas of the avant-garde make viewing a great pleasure.