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Gagosian Quarterly

Spring 2017 Issue

Man Ray

In the early 1980s, Ira Nowinski visited a studio frozen in time.

Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres with assemblages. Also pictured from left to right: It’s Springtime, Person to Person, and Featherweight

Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres with assemblages. Also pictured from left to right: It’s Springtime, Person to Person, and Featherweight

When the Nazis occupied France in 1940, Man Ray fled Paris. Instead of heading for New York, as many of the Surrealists did, he settled in Los Angeles, where he hoped for a career in films. There he met Juliet Browner and they were married in a double ceremony alongside Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning. In 1951, drawn back to Paris by Man Ray’s Dada roots, they set sail for France. Soon Man Ray and Juliet found a studio at 2 bis rue Férou, a narrow winding street between the Saint Sulpice Church and the Luxembourg Garden, deep in the heart of the Left Bank. It was a large whitewashed room that had originally been a garage and had then been used by a sculptor for many years. This was to be Man Ray’s final studio; he lived here for the rest of his life, right up until his death, in 1976. Rue Férou was the most improvised and personal studio of the artist’s life. He made everything in it—tables, benches, chairs, lamps, and bookcases—and built a darkroom, a bedroom, and a kitchen. He also arranged a parachute to float over the entire universe of Man Ray, to protect his artworks from the rain that came in through the leaky roof. Over the years the studio became crowded with new concoctions—photographs, readymades, paintings—and boxes full of things that were, in effect, Man Ray’s life. These were productive years, during which many of his most famous objects were recast in limited editions.

Man Ray

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s candid portrait of the artist with Marcel Duchamp, and Man Ray’s Le Manche dans la manche

Over the years the studio became crowded with new concoctions—photographs, readymades, paintings—and boxes full of things that were, in effect, Man Ray’s life. These were productive years, during which many of his most famous objects were recast in limited editions. The studio became a backdrop for many of his friends, including Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Francis Picabia. They were always playing chess, smoking, and drinking in true bohemian fashion. The studio was in a constant state of flux, from people stopping by to the objects that were arranged and then rearranged.

Man Ray died on November 18, 1976, and was buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris. Juliet grieved for her husband for many years, and would go to the old studio to smoke Gauloises, sip Scotch out of tea cups, and await his return.

Man Ray

To the door’s left, Father of Mona Lisa and Trompe-l’oeuf; to its right: Permanent Attraction, Les grands-trans-Parents, and Jeux nocturnes

My first visit to the studio, in 1983, set the stage for subsequent visits. Upon entering I picked up an ashtray containing two cigarette butts. Juliet politely told me to put it down exactly where I had found it. I was then informed that these cigarette butts were from the last visit to the studio by Marcel Duchamp. Then I knew where I was, or where I could be. Man Ray’s presence was everywhere—looking over my shoulder, behind a mirror—and every time I returned I found that some of the objects had mysteriously rearranged themselves, creating new possibilities and new layers to be discovered. On my final visit to the studio, Juliet closed the door, locked the three massive locks with her set of keys, and blew a kiss to the person known to his friends as Man. Juliet died in 1991. It was a great adventure to see Man Ray’s life through the filter of his studio: a unique experience.

Man Ray

Permanent Attraction, Target, Le Torse tournant, Chess Painting, Lampshade, and Domesticated Egg

Man Ray

Untitled assemblage

This text and the images from Man Ray’s studio first appeared in Ira Nowinksi’s The Studio of Man Ray, published in 2006 by Nazraeli Press. Artwork © 2017 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris. All photos by Ira Nowinski

Andrea Domenico Remps, Cabinet of Curiosities, c. 1690, oil on canvas, 39 × 54 inches (99 × 137 cm), Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Italy.

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Sydney Stutterheim meditates on the power and possibilities of small-format artworks throughout time.

The cover of the Spring 2020 edition of the Gagosian Quarterly magazine. A Cindy Sherman photograph of herself dressed as a clown against a rainbow background.

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020

The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.

Vertical film strips from Man Ray's films.

The Films of Man Ray: Mysterious Encounters of Realities and Dreams

Timothy Baum muses on Man Ray’s foray into filmmaking in the 1920s, the subject of the exhibition Man Ray: The Mysteries of Château du Dé at Gagosian, San Francisco. 

Cover of the Winter 2019 Gagosian Quarterly, featuring a selection from a black-and-white Christopher Wool photograph

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019

The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.

Man Ray: Visual Poet and Wit

Man Ray: Visual Poet and Wit

At the 2018 Frieze Masters fair in London, Gagosian’s stand presented more than ninety works by Man Ray: objects and assemblages, collages, oils, prints, drawings, and photographs. Richard Calvocoressi traces the development of the artist’s wide-ranging work and looks at his legendary three-year collaboration with Lee Miller.

Exiles in Paradise

Gagosian Quarterly Talks
Exiles in Paradise

Lawrence Weschler profiles the European exiles in Los Angeles during the 1930s and ’40s, examining how cultural visionaries, from Man Ray to Arnold Schoenberg, navigated the dramatic change in setting.

Man Ray’s LA

Man Ray’s LA

Timothy Baum explores this period of transition in response to an exhibition of Man Ray’s vintage gelatin silver photographs from his “Hollywood” period.

Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018

Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018

The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.

Art and Food

Art and Food

Mary Ann Caws and Charles Stuckey discuss the presence of food and the dining table in the history of modern art.

Sprayed: An Interview with Peter Stevens

Sprayed: An Interview with Peter Stevens

Harnessing the gestural, unpredictable, projectile qualities of spray paint, artists have repurposed it as an alternative to the brush, to create hazy textures, drips, puddles, and graffiti-like text. Peter Stevens discusses this history of spray paint as an artistic medium with Alison McDonald.

Isabelle Waldberg, with Construction (1943), in her studio, New York, 1943.

Isabelle Waldberg

Jacquelynn Baas profiles Isabelle Waldberg, writing on the sculptor’s many friendships and the influence of her singular creations.

Andy Warhol catalogue. Philadelphia: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1965.

Book Corner
On Collecting with Norman Diekman

Rare-book expert Douglas Flamm speaks with designer Norman Diekman about his unique collection of books on art and architecture. Diekman describes his first plunge into book collecting, the history behind it, and the way his passion for collecting grew.