Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976) was an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. Man Ray was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called "rayographs" in reference to himself.
Man Ray began working frequently with collage, assemblage, found objects, and experimental photography, creating “camera-less” photographic works he called Rayographs by placing objects on light-sensitive paper. Using solarization and other photographic techniques involving the manipulation of light and the camera’s mechanical processes, Man Ray further pushed the boundaries of avant-garde photography. He also created Surrealist films, and worked as a skilled portrait photographer; his subjects included Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and many other leading figures of the early 20th century.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Man Ray’s work was well received in France, and he was regarded as a major figure in the international art world. He returned to the United States in 1940 to escape war in Europe, and settled in Los Angeles; always uncomfortable with his American identity, he returned to France in 1951.
Man Ray spent the next few decades creating works, ranging from painting and drawing to assemblage and photography, exhibiting around the world before his death in Paris, in 1976.
Today, he is revered as one of the most important American Modernist artists, and as a groundbreaking practitioner of photography. His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam