Man Ray – 3 Short Films and a Documentary

Posted February 7th, 2012

Dada, Film, Surrealism, Videos

Man Ray (August 27, 1890 – November 18, 1976), born Emmanuel Radnitzky, 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, Man Ray produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter above all. He was also a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. He is noted for his photograms, which he renamed “Rayographs” after himself.

While appreciation for Man Ray’s work beyond his fashion and portrait photography was slow in coming during his lifetime, especially in his native United States, his reputation has grown steadily in the decades since.

Man Ray and Salvador Dali. Photo by Carl Van Vechten.

In 1999, ARTnews magazine named him one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century, citing his groundbreaking photography as well as “his explorations of film, painting, sculpture, collage, assemblage, and prototypes of what would eventually be called performance art and conceptual art” and saying “Man Ray offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its ‘pursuit of pleasure and liberty,’”—Man Ray’s stated guiding principles—”unlocked every door it came to and walked freely where it would.” (From Wikipedia)

Poison: A Short Film by Man Ray

Poison is a French film first released in 1935, directed by Man Ray. The film stars Meret Oppenheim and Man Ray. In the short film lasting just over three minutes, the great surrealist artist Man Ray makes a wry comment on that curious habit of human beings to wreck their health with alcohol and cigarettes. The images in the film are unsurprising, just the ordinary everyday sight of a couple have a relaxing smoke and a drink. The only give away as to the film’s meaning lies in its enigmatic title: poison.

L’Etoile de Mer (1928, Man Ray)

L’Étoile de Mer (English: The Sea Star) is a 1928 film directed by Man Ray. The film is based on a script by Robert Desnos and depicts a couple (Alice Prin and André de la Rivière) acting through scenes that are shot out of focus.

Emak-Bakia (1926, Man Ray)

“Inventions of light forms and movements” is the way Man Ray described the films he made in the 1920s. The title of his 1926 film Emak Bakia comes from an old Basque expression that means “don’t bother me.” Subtitled as a cinépoéme, it features many filming techniques used by Man Ray, including Rayographs, double exposures, soft focus and ambiguous features. Man Ray Trust © 1990. ADAGP- Paris/ARS – New York.
Music Credits: 1.) St. Louis Blues performed by Stephane Grappelly and His Hot Four with Django Reinhardt. Decca 23032 A 2.) Celery Stalks at Midnight performed by Will Bradley and His Orchestra. Columbia 35707 3.) You’re Driving me Crazy performed by Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Victor 26733. 4.) Limehouse Blues performed by Stephane Grappelly and His Hot Four with Django Reinhardt. Decca 23021 B. 5.) Merry Widow Waltz. Victor Continental Orchestra V-721-A.

Le Retour A La Raison (1923)

Le Retour A La Raison (The Return to Reason) is a black and white film by Man Ray from 1923. The music was composed and filmed by Donald Sosin.

Man Ray’s Life and Work – Documentary by Jean-Paul Fargier