Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia USA, 1890, to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. After moving to New York, they changed their surname to Ray due to antisemitism which was rife at the time. Later Emmanuel adopted the name Man Ray and used it as a single name. He made ground-breaking contributions to the avant-garde Dada and Surrealist movements.
Man Ray’s work spanned multiple media such as film, collage, poetry, and sculpture. However, he is best known for his photography, especially his photograms which he renamed ‘rayograms’. His experimentation with photographic techniques were paramount and in 1974 he was awarded the Progress Medal and Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society. He also became a celebrated fashion photographer.
In 1912 Man Ray enrolled at Ferrer School, New York, where he flourished. He abandoned conventual static imagery and focused on creating movement in his work. After meeting Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray dived into Dadaism and the two artists began a prosperous collaborative relationship.
He moved to Paris in 1921 and quickly immersed himself with the Surrealist movement, exhibiting at the first Surrealist exhibition at Galerie Pierre, Paris 1925. In 1940 Man Ray was forced to leave France due to the war and fled to Los Angeles where he met Juliet Browner. They married in 1946 in a double ceremony with Max Ernst and Doretha Tanning. He returned to Paris in 1951 where he remained for the rest of his life.
Man Ray died in 1976 in Paris at the age of 86.