Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky; 1890–1976) is celebrated for his Surrealist photographs and his camera-less photograms known as “rayographs.” But throughout his career, the American born artist produced major works across a wide range of artistic disciplines including painting, film, sculpture, printmaking, tapestry, and poetry.
A man of many ideas, Man Ray always endeavored to materialize a particular idea using whatever he found to be the most appropriate medium. In the artist’s own words : “I paint what cannot be photographed, and I photograph what I do not wish to paint.”
After meeting Marcel Duchamp in New York, Man Ray packed up his paints and cameras and followed his friend (and sometimes collaborator) to Paris in 1921. As the principal American participant in the Dadaist movement and alongside Parisian Surrealist painters, Man Ray found the artistic freedom he so craved.
Experimenting in his darkroom he placed objects on light-sensitive paper to create his signature artform—the “rayograph”—which Jean Cocteau aptly described as “paintings with light.” Working with muse and protégée Lee Miller, Man Ray used the process of solarization to create stunning portraits, nudes and still-lifes in which subjects circumscribed by shadowy lines appear to radiate a heavenly light.
In addition to his studio practice, Man Ray worked on and off as a fashion photographer for magazines including Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Even while making photographs within a commercial context, Man Ray introduced elements of his avant-garde style including double exposures, multiple shadows, severed limbs, masks, and veils. Some of the artist’s most iconic images—like the portrait of Kiki de Montparnasse next to a wooden African mask (Noir et blanc, 1926)—were first published in fashion magazines.
Over the course of more than half a century, Man Ray produced a materially and conceptually varied body of work that remains influential to this day. During his career, the artist collaborated with a diverse group of creatives ranging from Kiki de Montparnasse and Francis Picabia, to Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel.
It is in this spirit, and with great pleasure, that Alba Amicorum, working in collaboration with the Man Ray Trust, presents a new interpretation of Man Ray’s work: a limited-edition series of scarves based on original paintings and photographic works.