Man Ray

1890-1976

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Who is Man Ray?

Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, (born 27 August 1890, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA – died 18 November 1976, Paris, France) was a photographer, painter and filmmaker and is the only American to play a major role in the Dada and Surrealist movements.

Status, price and estimation of the artist Man Ray

Price of a photograph of the artist at auction: 200 – 100,000 €

Price of a print signed Man Ray at auction: 50 – 30,000€

Price of a painting by Man Ray: 5,000 – 900,000€

Price of a sculpture for auction: 300 – 15,000€

Price of a drawing or a watercolour by the artist: 500 – 80,000€

If you would like to have a photograph of Man Ray appraised, our photo experts are at your disposal for a free appraisal.

A decisive collaboration with Marcel Duchamp

Emmanuel Radnitzsky was the son of Jewish immigrants – his father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress. He grew up in New York City, where he studied architecture, engineering and the arts, and became a painter. In 1911, he took the pseudonym Man Ray. As a young man, he regularly frequented Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291, where he was introduced to current trends in art and photography. In 1915, Man Ray met the French artist Marcel Duchamp. Together, they collaborated on numerous inventions and formed the New York group of Dada artists. Like Duchamp, Man Ray began producing ready-made, commercially manufactured objects that he designated as works of art. Among his best-known ready-mades is The Gift (1921).

Man Ray’s role in Dadaism

In 1921, Man Ray moved to Paris and joined the Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles of artists and writers. Inspired by the liberation promoted by these groups, he experimented with many different kinds of media. His experiences with photography led him to rediscover how to make images “sans caméra”, or photograms, which he called rayographs. He made them by placing objects directly on light-sensitive paper, which he exposed to light and developed. In 1922, a book from his collection of radiographs, Les Champs délicieux, was published, with an introduction by the influential Dadaist artist Tristan Tzara, who admired the enigmatic quality of Man Ray’s images. In 1929, along with his lover – photographer and model Lee Miller – Man Ray also experimented with the technique called solarisation, which rendered part of a photographic image negative and part positive by exposing a print or negative to a flash of light during development. He and Miller were among the first artists to use this process for aesthetic purposes, although it had been known since the 1840s.

A multidisciplinary artist

Man Ray also turned to fashion and portrait photography and produced an almost complete photographic report on the celebrities of Parisian cultural life in the 1920s and 1930s. Several of his photographs were published in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vu and Vogue. He continued his experiments with photography through the genre of portrait – for example, he gave three pairs of eyes to a model and, in Le Violon d’Ingres (1924), he photographically superimposed sound holes, or “f holes”, on a photograph of a naked woman’s back, making her body look like a violin. He also continued to produce ready-mades. One, a metronome with a photograph of an eye fixed on the pendulum, was called Object to Be Destroyed (1923) – which the anti-Dada rioters did in 1957. Man Ray also made films. In a short film, The Return to Reason (1923), he applied the technique of radiography to motion picture film, creating patterns with salt, pepper, nails and pins. His other films are Anémic cinéma (1926; in collaboration with Duchamp) and L’Étoile de mer (1928-29; “Starfish”), which is considered a surrealist classic.

In 1940, Man Ray escaped the German occupation of Paris by settling in Los Angeles. Returning to Paris in 1946, he continued to paint and experiment until his death. His autobiography, Self-Portrait, was published in 1963 (reprinted in 1999).

Recognising Man Ray’s signature

Like many artists, Man Ray did not sign all of his works. However, you will find below an example of a signature in order to give you a first idea. Variations of this signature exist: do not hesitate to contact one of our experts to authenticate a signature in a formal way.

expertise signature man ray

Appraising and selling a photograph by Man Ray

If you own a print  or any other sculpture by Man Ray, ask for a free estimate via our online form.

You will then be contacted by a member of our team of experts and auctioneers to give you an independent view of the market price of your photograph. In the event of a sale, our specialists will also advise you on the various options available to sell your work at the best price.

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