The Dada of Us All: Man Ray


Emmanuel Radnitsky (1890-1976), better known as Man Ray, led a life as interesting as his artwork. Referred to as "the Dada of us all" by one of his patrons, Man Ray is popular with "Feel Art Again" readers, especially Bob the Walrus and Corrine, who both requested a post on the man who sought to "amuse, bewilder, annoy, and inspire."

1. Man Ray was once described by his brother-in-law, Joseph Browner, as "a kind of short man who looked a little like Mr. Peepers, spoke slowly with a slight Brooklynese accent, and talked so you could never tell when he was kidding."

2. Although he was born in Pennsylvania, Man Ray spent the longest periods of his life in New York, Paris, and California. He also had strong opinions about his cities. Upon leaving New York for Paris, Man Ray said of his former home, "Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival." In later years, he never became fully comfortable in Hollywood, and likened California to a "beautiful prison."

3. Man Ray's photographs are full of the famous artistic and literary figures of his time, including James Joyce, Constantin Brancusi, Gertrude Stein, Joseph Stella, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Matisse, Marcel Duchamp (as Rrose Sélavy), and Marcel Proust (on his deathbed).

4. While Man Ray had many lovers over the years, he only married twice. His first marriage only lasted a few years, but his second marriage, to Juliet Browner, lasted a full 30 years. Browner and Man Ray were married in 1946, in a double-wedding with their friends Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning. They remained together until Man Ray's death in 1976.

5. Upon his death in 1976, Man Ray was interred at the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris with the epitaph, "unconcerned, but not indifferent." When his wife Juliet Browner passed away in 1991, she was interred in the same tomb, with the epitaph, "together again."

Larger versions of "Le Violon d'Ingres (Ingres's Violin)" (1924) and "Tears" (1930-1932) are available. Fans should check out the Man Ray Trust; Man Ray Photo; Tate Modern's "Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia" exhibition; and the collections of Man Ray's work at the George Eastman House, the Getty Museum, the MoMA, and SFMOMA. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.