Man Ray: the exhibition in Turin

At the CAMERA museum in Turin, an exhibition with over 200 photographs by Man Ray, one of the masters of twentieth-century photography, is now on stage. The exhibition – entitled WO | MAN RAY – places its focus on the female figure and on his many muses, collaborators and inspirers. Open until January 19th, 2020.

man ray
Man Ray. Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924
Courtesy Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia – ASAC, Venezia
© Man Ray Trust by SIAE 2019

The protagonists of the photos on display are names that were later to become important for the history of photography and twentieth-century art: Lee Miller, Meret Oppenheim, Berenice Abbottt, Dora Maar … women whose bodies Man Ray subjected to continuous metamorphosis of forms and meanings, becoming from time to time an abstract form, an object of seduction, classical memory, realist portrait (with its peculiar techniques: rayograph, solarisations, double exposures).
An exhibition, that of the Turin museum, whose purpose is also to tell a different Man Ray. In the words of the director of CAMERA museum, Walter Guadagnini: “Everybody knows Man Ray, his nudes with sensual, provocative and playful eroticism, but not everyboy known as well the story of the women who collaborated, lived and fought with him, who learned from him and taught to him, and that turned out to be protagonists of art and world photography. In this new perspective, we recreate an environment, we tell a story that is in part unpublished and we expose masterpieces.”

The Man Ray Muses

Lee Miller.

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Man Ray. Electricité, 1931.
Courtesy Collezione Fondazione MAST Bologna.
@ Man Ray Trust by SIAE 2019

American model who became the muse and assistant of Man Ray (considered co-author of the masterpiece “Électricité” exhibited here) and who in the 1930s opened her own photo studio in New York (with clients like Coco Chanel), participated in the surrealist movement, acted in the film “Le Sang d’un Poète” by Jean Cocteau and during the second world war she embarked on a career as a photojournalist from the front (she documented numerous battles in France following the D-Day and the horror of the Nazi concentration camps).

Meret Oppenheim.

She was one of Man Ray’s favorites (she is the nude model of one of the most iconic series of Man Ray, “Érotique-voilée”), and an artist and photographer very close to Parisian surrealist circles. In Paris, in fact, she met not only Man Ray but also Duchamp, Dalì and Giacometti. In her works and photographs, the dreams and the subconscious always play a great role. Her best-known surrealist work probably remains the “The Luncheon in Fur” currently exhibited at MoMA.

Berenice Abbott.

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Berenice Abbott, James Joyce, Paris, 1927.
Courtesy of Howard Greeenberg Gallery, New York.
@ Berenice Abbott / Getty Images

Among all the collaborators of Man Ray, Abbott was certainly the one with the brightest career in photography: from assistant to the darkroom in his Montparnasse studio (without having any technical knowledge of the subject) in 1923, she soon became one of the most famous and prestigious names in the world of photography. Actually, the culture’s gotha ​​of the first half of the twentieth century passed through her lenses: Jean Cocteau, André Gide, Eugène Atget, Sylvia Beach, Max Ernst, Janet Flanner and James Joyce (the most famous portrait of the Irish writer is hers). But in the 30s of the last century, Abbott also became interested in architecture and urban planning, and it was in this period that she documented the changing New York after the 1929 crisis.

Dora Maar.

Dora Maar was another muse and model of Man Ray, but her name is usually linked to that of Picasso (with whom she had a tormented relationship). But Maar knew how to be a great artist (photographer, poet and painter) even far from her masters and in these years her disquieting genius is being rediscovered: between the raw realism of street photography, avant-garde experimentation and surrealism, her photos are no less than Brassaï’s or even Man Ray’s.

Cover image:

Man Ray. Les larmes/Le lacrime, 1930-1932 (1976) cm 17.5 x 23
Collezione privata, Torino

© Man Ray Trust by SIAE 2019 Photo by Renato Ghiazza.

Target Point, Italian Ideas