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This exhibition will explore "the universal Man Ray": the visionary artist who painted, drew, designed, made films and objects, wrote, and worked enthusiastically in typography, book and magazine design.
150 masterworks lent from collections across the world, including paintings, photographs, objects, works on paper, collages, assemblages and experimental film will trace the career of Man Ray, his enigmatic and complex personality, and his work and legacy which paved the way for contemporary art, laying the groundwork for what we see as "art" today.
Critically addressing the issues that appear throughout his œuvre, such as the closeness and distance between male and female physicality and creativity, the exhibition will also focus on Man Ray as a prototype of the artistic networker and catalyst, a "friend to everyone who was anyone" who associated with the most glamorous circles of society.
Bank Austria Kunstforum | Vienna, Austria
14 February - 24 June 2018
Man Ray (born as Emmanuel Radnitzky in 1890 in Philadelphia, died in 1976 in Paris) has always been primarily received as a photographer. He achieved worldwide renown for his portraits of artists and his rayographs of the 1920s, produced without the use of a camera.
However, Man Ray painted, drew, designed, made films and objects, wrote, invested his talents enthusiastically in typography, book and magazine design, and pursued a veritable career as experimental fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue – thus providing enviable scope for Kunstforum to visualise all this in its exhibition. Man Ray exploited countless artistic media and techniques in an inventive and playful manner.
In his autobiography, appearing in 1963, he wrote: “... the instrument did not matter – one could always reconcile the subject with the means and get a result that would be interesting (...) One should be superior to his limited means, use imagination, be inventive.”
While Man Ray’s photography is omnipresent in every overview on Dadaism and Surrealism, until now only few people in the German-speaking regions have been aware of him as a universal artist. His artistic brinkmanship relates not only to very diverse media, but also the two art capitals of the twentieth century – Paris and New York, where Man Ray alternately lived.
Kunstforum’s exhibition will be devoted to “the universal Man Ray” and critically address discourses that mark his oeuvre in general, such as the closeness and distance between male and female physicality and creativity and their enactment in his oeuvre; it will also show Man Ray as “friend to everyone who was anyone”, who associated in the most glamorous circles of society and thus as prototype of the artistic networker and catalyst.
A selection of 150 keyworks from all over the world, including painting, photography, objects, works on paper, collages and assemblages and experimental film, will help to map the outline of an enigmatic and complex artist personality who paved the way for modern and contemporary art, and – in congenial artistic complicity with Marcel Duchamp – laid groundwork for how and what we see as “art” today.
Curator: Lisa Ortner-Kreil