Man Ray: Writings on Art

Edited by Jennifer Mundy. J. Paul Getty Trust, $50 (456p) ISBN 978-1-60606-458-0
Man Ray (1890–1976)—the American photographer, filmmaker, painter, and object maker often associated with Dada and surrealism—emerges as a prolific writer as well in this carefully shaped collection of texts culled together by Mundy, the head of collection research at London’s Tate Museum. Organized chronologically, the selection includes letters, interviews, notes, words pulled from albums and portfolios, and published and unpublished texts, all of which serve to position Man Ray as a strikingly vocal artist. The writing is clever and colorful, occasionally humorous and even prophetic. He writes about abstraction, and his hero, the Marquis de Sade. Yet he never writes specifically about individual artists, due to a “lifelong dislike of critics” and critical writing. Of great interest are some of Man Ray’s early texts, in which he asserts the importance of the flat two-dimensional plane and anticipates the injunctions of later formalist critics like Clement Greenberg in the 1940s and ’50s. These writings may very well revise people’s common perceptions of the artist, who regarded himself, contrary to his reputation at the time, as a “as a thinker and as someone who was interested in using words creatively.” Color illus. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 72 pages - 978-0-87955-603-7
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