Thursday, November 17, 2016

Last Call: Man Ray at Francis Naumann Fine Art, through November 18th

Man Ray, Self-Portrait with Half-Beard, 1943

Francis Naumann is a national treasure and one of the smartest art historians I can think of - particularly when it comes to Dada artists.  So any Man Ray exhibition deserves our attention, for it is indeed a reason to celebrate as we head into the holidays. Alas, today and tomorrow mark the end of Man Ray: Continued and Noticed - a most excellent show that should be noticed by everyone.  

Naumann explained that he has mounted an homage to Man Ray's 1948 show at Copley Gallery in Beverly Hills entitled Man Ray: Continued and Unnoticed.  "Man Ray must have wanted these words to let his audience know that he was still working ('continued'), but that he worked with virtually no recognition ('unnoticed').  The present exhibition - held 68 years after his show at the Copley Galleries - is intended to demonstrate that Man Ray's work not only continues to be of interest, but that it is still noticed and, with the passage of time, better understood and appreciated (although the latter may never have been his intent)." 

May I add that the same goes for Francis Naumann's endeavors.  They continue to enlighten us and are always noticed for their insightful analyses.

Man Ray, Self-Portrait (on Plexiglas), 1916/70

Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzsky on August 27, 1890 - about 10 years after Picasso (whose photograph is included in the show) and closer in age to Marcel Duchamp (born July 28, 1887), who befriended him while he lived in New York in 1915 - 1920.  Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921.

In Man Ray's self-portrait on plexiglas, we see evidence of the artist's grasp of French as he attempts to visually pun his name with his handprint (main - pronounced "meh") and beams of lights or stripes (rayons or rayures).  This images also demonstrates Man Ray's fertile mind for invention. Naumann attributes this "defiance of artistic convention" and "commitment to absolute freedom in the arts"  to "his association with the anarchist movement in New York."  Moreover, this portrait speaks to the artist's infusion of humor in his work, which Naumann points out several times in his essay, particularly at the end in Marcel Duchamp's definition, 1959: "Man Ray, n.m. la joie, jouer, jouir  [Man Ray, noun, masculine, joy, to play, to enjoy]."

Man Ray, L'Heure de l'observatoire les amoreaux, 1932-36

And for those of you who cultivate a love of Man Ray's work, this exhibition will not disappoint. One of his best known works (among so many) entitled Observatoire Time: The Lovers is on view.  Based on Lee Miller's lips, which he kissed so often and missed intensely after their breakup, it wistfully conjures up this photographer in her own right, who was Man Ray's assistant and lover from 1919 to 1932.

Would love to add more to this blog post, but the "heure" is late and I must post asap.

Man Ray: Continued and Noticed closes at 6 pm on Friday, November 18.
Francis Naumann Fine Art, 24 West 57th Street, 3rd floor.

The exhibition will be featured in the Francis Naumann booth at Art Miami Basel, December 1st through 4th.   Please inquire at the gallery for details.

N. B. - I highly recommend the catalog for this show, even if you are not able to see the works in person - a must-read for any serious art historian and all Man Ray fans. 

Beth New York

aka Beth S. Gersh-Nesic
New York Arts Exchange

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