M WOODS Museum: Man Ray: Dreams, Images and Love

“Everything can be transformed, distorted and erased by light.” – Man Ray

Man Ray: Dreams, Images and Love is the first large-scale museum exhibition in China, and the largest to date in Asia, by pioneering modernist master Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitsky, 1890-1976). Exactly 100 years since Man Ray’s first exhibition in Paris in 1921, the exhibition features over 240 works by Man Ray, including paintings, sculptures, films, prints, works on paper, archival documents and poetry, from public and private collections, giving the viewer a unique insight into his diverse artistic production.

The exhibition, like Man Ray’s autobiographical book Self-Portrait, follows the artist’s life through his four major migrations between the United States and France, which are represented in the four chapters of the exhibition. : New York: 1890-1921, Paris: 1921-1940, Hollywood: 1940-1951, and Retour à Paris: 1951-1976.

Man Ray’s first encounters and friendships with Marcel Duchamp, which led to his Photograph of Marcel Duchamp Nude descending a staircase n ° 2 (1920), and his portraits of Duchamp as “Rrose Sélavy” (his infamous alter ego), both included in the exhibition, each chapter of the exhibition contains specific sub-themes that allow visitors to examine his many contributions to modern Art. Among these themes are the important artistic movements – Dadaism and Surrealism – which he helped to initiate and record: key works are exhibited, such as the first Dada object he made in France, Gift (1921), and Perpetual motif (1923). Other important themes include her career in fashion photography for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and the many muses and lovers who have played key roles in her life: Kiki de Montparnasse, Lee Miller and Juliet Browner, all of whom have sections dedicated in the exhibition, which highlight the ways in which his personal life has influenced his art. As the poet HD (Hilda Doolittle) reminds us, “there is no great era of art without great lovers”. This was especially true for Man Ray.

In addition to this, the exhibition examines the multitude of ways in which Man Ray has broadened the medium of photography to occupy a space at the intersection of fine art and documentation. Man Ray considered himself first and foremost “a painter [who] uses his photograph to reproduce [his] works ”, yet his incorporation of portraiture and“ fashion prints ”into his artistic language, often to support his art, changed the way we understand the discipline today and influenced the application of photography and images to magazines and advertisements.

Man Ray’s art allows us to better understand the world through his alternate lens. The exhibition invites the public to discover Man Ray’s optical experiments brought to light by his Rayographs, considered as “pure Dada creations” and “photographs without a camera”. Moving between the pre-war and post-war periods, the exhibition examines how historical events, personal relationships, and his long-term examination of the nature of art intertwine and take shape in the work of Man Ray. Dreams come true as Man Ray reveals the ways in which the subconscious informs prospect, incorporating ideas, desires and meaning, while “in the true Dada mind” as Man Ray asserts, completing “the cycle of the confusion”.

Organized by Victor Wang and Marion Meyer

Man Ray: Dreams, Images and Love

October 1, 2021 – January 2, 2022

M WOODS Museum

D-06, 798 Art Zone, 2 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100015


After the exhibition ends at M WOODS, Beijing in January, she will be on tour at TAG Art Musuem, Qingdao.

About Julius Southworth

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