Man Ray was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself.
During his career as an artist, Man Ray allowed few details of his early life or family background to be known to the public. He even refused to acknowledge that he ever had a name other than Man Ray. Born in Philadelphia from Russian jewish emigrants, the family decided to change name because of the feeling of antisemitism.
Man Ray shown artistic talent and he learn the basic art technic at school. He was also studying Old Masters from locals Museums but refused to join a architecture school to become an artist. Even his family was disappointed by this, they support him and changed the humble house configuration to make a studio. He started to earn money as a commercial artist in New York.
Most of his art was in 19th century style. But soon in got influenced by the cubism and the European movements. His first exhibition was held in 1915 and he started to produce his significant photographs in 1918. It's from that time that he join Dada, a radical anti-art movement. He started making objects and developed unique mechanical and photographic methods of making images. He helped Marcel Duchamp make the Rotary Glass Plates.
In July 1921, Man Ray arrived in Paris and settled in the Montparnasse quarter favored by many artists. Shortly after arriving in Paris, he met and fell in love with Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), an artists' model and celebrated character in Paris bohemian circles. Kiki was Man Ray's companion for most of the 1920s. She became the subject of some of his most famous photographic images and starred in his experimental films. In 1929, he began a love affair with the Surrealist photographer Lee Miller. It's with her that Man Ray reinvented the photographic technique of solarization and created a type of photogram he called "rayographs".
For the next 20 years in Montparnasse, Man Ray was a distinguished photographer. Significant members of the art world posed for his camera. Duchamp, Man Ray, and Francis Picabia were friends and collaborators. The three were connected by their experimental, entertaining, and innovative art.
Man Ray was forced to return from Paris to the United States due to the Second World War. He lived in Los Angeles, California from 1940 to 1951. In 1963, he published his autobiography, Self-Portrait. There, he met Man Ray met Juliet Browner who he married soon after he arrived. But Man Ray was missing France and they came back together in Montparnasse. He died there in 1976 and is buried in Montparnasse cemetery.