September 21, 1996~January 31, 1997
Press Release
smart art press catalogue

Le Beau Temps,1939,Oil on canvas

"....When Man Ray disembarked from the Excambion in Hoboken on August 16, 1940, he knew exactly where he was and he didn't like it. Any feeling of relief at having left France, which had been overrun by Nazi Germany, had dissipated in the difficult crossing; his discomfort was compounded by the theft of his camera equipment. Now came insult on injury: Salvador Dalí, a one-time Surrealist compatriot, was hogging the limelight as reporters and photographers sought out the latest celebrities washed ashore by the onslaught of war. Fortunately, his sister Elsie Siegler and his young niece Naomi were at the pier to welcome him to their home in Jersey City. More than Man Ray realized at the time, Elsie would be a reassuring presence to help ease his dislocations over the coming decade....

Harry Kantor, variously described as a "quasi-bohemian" and "traveling necktie salesman," proposed that Man Ray accompany him on a business trip by car to Los Angeles.7 Southern California was not quite Tahiti, but the region boasted its own palm trees and the glamour of Hollywood. Voluntarily taking off for California would be a new adventure for Man Ray. At the very least, the trip would provide a much-needed vacation, but it also held out the possibility of a new beginning...."

Permanent Attraction,
Three large wooden chess pieces and board

Object Indestructible
Readymade wooden metronome with photograph of an eye
"In his Hollywood decade, Man Ray played back and forth between and among media, especially since it was no longer necessary to concentrate on commercial photography as he had in Paris where, he confessed in Pasadena, he had been "terrified at the prospect" of no income as a foreigner. Decentered in this fashion, his work often appears off-key, moving against the grain of expectation. His Shakespearean Equations are precariously balanced on this overlay of shifting media. Beginning with photographs of mathematical objects which, for all Man Ray knew, had been vandalized during the Nazi occupation, the paintings themselves risk misreadings by virtue of their disparate titles. The artist's narrative alone exposes the imaginative process that energizes and completes them....

Man Ray and Juliet visited the impoverished [Henry] Miller in his shack up at Big Sur, where they communally enjoyed the hot sulphur baths. "The sense of freedom was complete," Man Ray claimed. "And this open-air plumbing made a perfectly Surrealistic picture." Miller planned a sequel to The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, which was to include Man Ray "and those days in Hollywood . . . the more enjoyable phases of that trip."36 Miller paid perhaps the greatest compliment by printing postcards with Man Ray's 1934 Observatory Time—The Lovers reproduced on end, a small advertisement for the artist he admired...."

"A l'heure de l'observatoire—Les Amoureux", ©1941
Man Ray photograph of the painting,
Gelatin-silver print

"With the close of the decade, Man Ray wrote dramatically to Elsie, "I am organizing things and getting ready for any eventuality—to go back east—or to France. Something is in the air." What he smelled, of course, were the origins of McCarthyism, which infected even the arts during the onset of the cold war. His hand was finally forced by the removal of rent controls in early 1951. With the financial assistance of Copley, he decided to leave Hollywood. "Well, the die is cast," he announced to Elsie. "I am closing my studio and moving everything to New York. We have reservations to sail for Paris on the 12th of March on the De Grasse."7 A yard sale, his landlord's last-minute purchase of the Graham-Page, and then he and Juliet along with William Copley and Gloria de Herrera were off....

On April 1st, Man Ray informed Elsie of "an ideal crossing." A recently wed Naomi and her husband met them at the station in Paris and took them to a hotel. Man Ray's next adventure was beginning: "The great hunt is on for a studio," he wrote. By August "the blanket of tailor's samples" would soon follow him to his new studio on rue Ferou."87

Oil on canvas

Noire et blanche
Gelatin-silver print
7. Neil Baldwin, Man Ray: American Artist (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1988), 233-44.
36. Henry Miller to Man Ray and Juliet, January 27, 1946, Special Collections, Getty Center.
86. Man Ray to Elsie Siegler, June 7, 1949; February, 1951, Special Collections, Getty Center.
87. Man Ray to Elsie Siegler, April 1, 1951, Special Collections, Getty Center.