Yousuf KARSH 1908-2002
'Man Ray' 1965 gelatin silver photograph © Estate of Yousuf Karsh

Born Emmanuel Radnitsky in Philadelphia in 1890, Man Ray was raised in New York, where he began his artistic career. He was a regular at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291, and attended classes at the Ferrer Centre before meeting Marcel Duchamp, who was to become a lifelong friend and collaborator. With Duchamp, Man Ray founded the Society of Independent Artists in 1916 and published the pamphlet New York Dada in 1920. In the same year the artist created his famous readymade The enigma of Isidore Ducasse, followed in 1921 by Cadeau, both of which feature in the National Gallery’s collection.

In 1921 Man Ray relocated to Paris. It was here, among the artists of the bohemian Montparnasse district, that he began to work in the Surrealist style of photography for which he is best known. In 1966 Man Ray created two screen prints and a lithograph at Gemini GEL after visiting the studio out of interest while setting up his retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The three screen prints Untitled, Hands, and One hand, are based on the artist’s signature ‘rayograms’.
Emilie Owens

Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

Family relocates to New York

Begins to frequent Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery, Gallery 291, where he is exposed to the work of European contemporary artists including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the innovative photography of Stieglitz himself.

Attends classes at the Ferrer Center
Provoked by racial prejudice, the Radnitzky family changes their surname to Ray. Around this time Emmanuel adopts the name ‘Man’, believed to stem from the childhood nickname ‘Manny’. For the rest of his life he is known only as Man Ray.

Attends exhibition, The armory show, where he sees Marcel Duchamp’s work for the first time. Duchamp and Man Ray were to become lifelong friends and collaborators.

First solo show of drawings and paintings at Daniel Gallery, New York
Publishes Dadaist pamphlet, The Ridgefield Gazook

Founds the Society of Independent Artists with Duchamp and Walter Arensberg

Founds the Société Anonyme with Duchamp, Henry Hudson, Katherine Dreier and Andrew McLaren
Publishes New York Dada with Duchamp
Creates readymade, The enigma of Isidore Ducasse

Creates readymade, Cadeau [Gift]
Moves to Paris, France and settles in the bohemian Montparnasse district. Man Ray stays in this district for the next twenty years and develops his signature avant-garde style of photography.

Begins making ‘rayographs’, his unique version of the photogram
Included in exhibition, Salon Dada, Galerie Montaigne, Paris

Makes film, Le retour à la raison

Starts working as a fashion photographer for the magazine Vogue

Included in the first Surrealist exhibition, La peinture Surrealiste, Gallerie Pierre, Paris

Makes film, Emak Bakia

Solo exhibition, Recent painting and photographic compositions, Daniel Gallery, New York

Starts working as a fashion photographer for the magazine Vu
Makes film, L’Etoile de mer

Makes film, Les Mystères du Chateau de Dé

Included in exhibitions, Dada, 1916 – 1932, Galerie de l’Institut, Paris; Surrealist exhibition, Julien Levy gallery, New York

Starts working as a fashion photographer for the magazine Harper’s Bazaar

Included in exhibition, Fantastic art, Dada, Surrealism, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Beginning of World War II prompts return to the United States

Solo exhibition, Man Ray: retrospective exhibition, 1913 to 1944, Pasadena Art Institute, Los Angeles

Returns to Paris

Included in the Venice Biennale, and is awarded the Gold Medal for photography

Solo exhibition, Man Ray, l’oeuvre photographique, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

Publishes autobiography, Self Portrait

Produces screenprints Hands and One hand, and lithograph Untitled at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles
Solo exhibition, Man Ray, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Represented at theVenice Biennale by the solo exhibition, Man Ray, l’immagine fotografica, Venice
Man Ray died in Paris on November 18

Emilie Owens, 2007
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017