Man Ray

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I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.

Emmanuel Radnitzky (August 27, 1890November 18, 1976), more widely known as Man Ray, was an American artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. Perhaps best described simply as a modernist, he was a significant contributor to both the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography.

Sourced[edit]

It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.
There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.
To me, a painter, if not the most useful, is the least harmful member of our society.
A creator needs only one enthusiast to justify him.
unconcerned but not indifferent
  • Throughout time painting has alternately been put to the service of the Church, the State, arms, individual patronage, scientific phenomena, anecdote and decoration … all the marvelous works that have been painted, whatever the sources of inspiration, still live for us because of absolute qualities they possess in common. The creative force and the expressiveness of painting reside materially in the colour and texture of pigments, in the possibilities of form invention and organisation, and in the flat plane on which these elements are brought into play.
    • As quoted in "American Modernists in Painting take the Public into their Confidence" in Current Opinion Vol LX, No. 5 (May 1916), p. 351
  • One of the satisfactions of a genius is his will-power and obstinacy.
    • Letter to his sister (18 May 1941), as quoted in Man Ray : American Artist (1988) by Neil Baldwin
  • It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.
    • Julien Levy exhibition catalog (April 1945)
  • There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.
    • "To Be Continued, Unnoticed" (1948)
  • There is … your high bridge in Pasadena from which every once in a while someone jumps off, committing suicide. There is no question of removing the bridge. Poems have been written by well-known authors that are supposed to have driven love-sick young people to suicide. These works are not banned. Thousands lose their lives in automobile accidents, yet nothing is done to restrain manufacturers from building lethal instruments that can do more than 30 miles an hour. To me, a painter, if not the most useful, is the least harmful member of our society. An unskilled cook or doctor can put our lives in danger. l have tried … to paint a picture that would, like the beautiful head of Medusa, turn the spectator to stone … so that certain ones who looked at it would drop dead … but l have not yet succeeded!
    • In response to criticism of controversial paintings, in Self Portrait (1963), p. 342
  • A creator needs only one enthusiast to justify him.
    • Self Portrait (1963), p. 352
  • Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask "how", while others of a more curious nature will ask "why". Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.
    • As quoted in Photographers on Photography : A Critical Anthology (1966) by Nathan Lyons, p. 80
  • All critics should be assassinated.
    • As quoted in Bartlett's Unfamiliar Quotations (1971) edited by Leonard Louis Levinson
  • An original is a creation motivated by desire.
    Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity.

    The original is the result of an automatic process, the reproduction, of a mechanical process. In other words: Inspiration then information; each validates the other.
    All other considerations are beyond the scope of these statements.
    It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human.
    • "Originals Graphics Multiples" (1973)
  • l paint what cannot be photographed, and l photograph what l do not wish to paint. lf it is a portrait that interests me, a face, or a nude, I will use my camera. It is quicker than making a drawing or a painting. But if it is something I cannot photograph, like a dream or a subconscious impulse I have to resort to drawing or painting. To express what I feel I use the medium best suited to express that idea, which is also always the most economical one. l am not at all interested in being consistent as a painter, and object-maker or a photographer. I can use several different techniques, like the old masters who were engineers, musicians and poets at the same time. I have never shared the contempt shown by painters for photography: there is no competition involved, painting and photography are two media engaged in different paths. There is no conflict between the two.
    • As quoted in Man Ray : The Rigour of Imagination (1977) by Arturo Schwarz, p. 12
    • Variant: I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.
    • As quoted in an interview "Man Ray: Photographer" published in Camera (1981) edited by Philippe Sers
  • I have been accused of being a joker. But the most successful art to me involves humor.
    • As quoted in an interview "Man Ray: Photographer" published in Camera (1981) edited by Philippe Sers


Misattributed[edit]

  • Don't put my name on it. These are simply documents I make.
    • This originates with Eugène Atget, who was quoted by Ray in "Interview: Man Ray" Camera, Vol. 54, No. 2 (February 1975), p. 40

Quotes about Man Ray[edit]

External links[edit]

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