Man Ray American Artist

Neil Baldwin, Author Clarkson N Potter Publishers $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-56001-3
Man Ray was a bundle of enigmasa Dadaist who revered the Old Masters, an anarchist coddled by wealthy patrons, an obsessive documenter of his own works who was relentlessly determined to erase his personal history. Born Emmanuel Radnitsky, son of a Philadelphia garment factory worker and a strict, sharp-tongued housewife, he grew up in Brooklyn, fled to Paris and eluded ties with a family proud of their bohemian son. He became a chess addict and neglected his first wife; he writhed with jealousy when his mistress-model scored success as an artist. Driven to make his mark in as many art forms as possible, the photographer/object-maker/collagist bitterly struggled to win acceptance as a painter. Turning to Hollywood as a filmmaker in the 1940s, he was dismissed by the art world. Man Ray's lighthearted autobiography Self-Portrait (Forecasts, Aug. 12) hides his inner contradictions; Baldwin, biographer of William Carlos Williams, unmasks his quirks in a model biographyjudicious, compulsively readable, rooting its subject in his cultural milieu. The first full-length life of the artist, it is a remarkable feat of sleuthing. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
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