Man Ray’s Paris Portraits_ 1921–1939

Set up View: Man Ray’s Paris Portraits: 1921-1939. Di Donna Galleries, New York, 2023. Courtesy Di Donna Galleries.

On View Di Donna Galleries

with Timothy Baum

Man Ray’s Paris Portraits: 1921–1939

April 26 – June 2, 2023

New York

As Emmanuel Di Donna says in his introduction to this splendid show of classic portrait images by the indisputably nice Man Ray, these works do certainly seize “the essence of Parisian life between 1921 and 1939.” How not already to like the verb “seize”? For the heady fragrance of those astonishing portraits instantly imprisons the viewer, whereas the faces appear to talk of a lot literature and extra, and recall so many different visages of assorted memorizable pasts of those years. We the current readers of those countenances can not maybe undo our separate and collective “remembrances of issues previous”—having been riveted through the years by that unforgettable deathbed photograph of Marcel Proust of 1922, recalling a number of recollections of the close to and much previous.

Let me say, straight off and in no unsure phrases, that the very private method of Timothy Baum enhances his instantly recognizable and undeniably intimate remarks about Man Ray’s works each single time. In one other case, about one other author and skilled, I is likely to be tempted to reward “each elaboration,” referring to those captions. However these usually are not gildings, and even interpretations—as we often say of translations—for they really feel wedded to his personal treasuring of every picture, being in no sense extraneous. Relatively, they converse from and inside an expertise they’re keen, even perhaps keen, to share with us. Nor can we really feel any need to impose these by no means prolonged remarks upon the uncommon and cherished pictures, however fairly merely to state their relevance to us all, like a roughly collective reception within the current, however their chronological pastness.

Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim on the Printer’s Wheel (Érotique Voilée), 1933. Classic silver print, 11 x 8 3/4 inches. Courtesy Personal Assortment and Di Donna Galleries.

Just a few particular remarks: how can anybody not be enticed into the wheel of the Méret Oppenheim picture, entitled Erotique Voilée (1933), not so veiled or hidden in any case, along with her navel appropriately uncovered and the hub of the wheel making itself felt, whereas the printer’s ink adorning her left arm speaks loudly of the creative medium she practiced?

In fact, I’ve my favorites, Erik Satie a significant bizarrely good presence amongst them. How I bear in mind his Vexations (ca. 1893), lasting in a single day on the Guggenheim, and carried out by a gentle stream of pianists with a sure solemnity. And I’ve all the time had a (normally unstated) admiration for Augustus John, womanizer although he was.

See the hysterically humorous double portrait of Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, each asleep however with heads pointed in reverse instructions. I discover myself all the time taken by double pictures, like that of Louis Aragon and André Breton, doubly extra fascinating than the serious-faced Aragon alone. Someway, this portrait retains Breton’s magnetic attraction of a face: responding to Timothy Baum’s private voice, I admit that it was Breton’s face that swept me into surrealism, “goodness me,” as we used to exclaim! Simply check out his two single portraits on this quantity. Nonetheless on the subject of double portraits, how to not revel within the pleasure of Paul Éluard with Nusch? I wager that neither of them ever seemed so glad in a shot, like a shot of whiskey.

Man Ray, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, 1923-24. Classic silver print mounted on paper, 5 x 3 1/2 inches. Courtesy Di Donna Galleries.

Revelations abound: Janine Kahn, sister to Simone Breton, along with her fascinating doll-like face cradled in her arms as she is slowly surveying you. How did Man Ray handle to pose such sideways figures because the Princesse Marthe Bibesco, her robe remarkably, dramatically half-draped, as she contemplates her personal fingers enclosing an object. We don’t actually care about it, because the permission for a sure haughtiness is someway given, as it’s for the Duchesse de Gramont, once more wanting sideways along with her strong-jawed face above her luxurious furpiece.

Hooray for the automobiles in reminiscence and presence: André Derain is displayed, smallish in his Bugatti, sharing his enthusiasm for unique motorcars with Man Ray and Picabia. This ardour jogs my memory how Robert Motherwell was impressed with that exact same motorcar.

Not possible to not admire Timothy Baum’s personal enthusiasms and their character, like Mary Butts’s work being “blessedly being reprinted and loved as soon as once more” and “The good noble Georges Braque.” “Ah sure,” begins a caption for Jacques Rigaut, and this intimate expression is echoed in a number of locations. Notably endearing are such remarks as his plea for details about two feminine chess gamers to the readers of this catalogue: “If you understand, please go that info on to me.”

Given my very own attachment to 1 poet/artist, gladly expressed in my current Mina Loy: Apology of Genius, I used to be delighted by the stunning, solarized {photograph} of her daughter Joella, to whom she gave start with the British photographer Stephen Haweis. She has the inescapable and enduring great thing about her mom. Thank goodness, Timothy Baum explains solarization as he manifests it, within the excellent profile of André Breton which bears Man Ray’s dedication to Baum himself: “Burnishing the detrimental (normally of the glass plate selection) with a flash or bead of intense gentle, he may spotlight the photographs by outlining or distorting at will.”

What a perceiver is Timothy Baum, whose alternative of Man Ray’s Paris pictures bespeaks this present completely. We can not not discover Jean Cocteau with Cane (early Twenties), by which the cane takes seen priority over the solemn determine of the author/playwright/painter/actor/director. He contemplates the cane because it snakes its manner towards the handkerchief in his pocket. It’s all very splendidly odd. Simply take a look at the “elegant and correct” thriller woman Alice (1929) and her “unknown story,” the place he notices the sitter’s “obvious discomfort”: certainly! Precisely what others won’t discover, he does. We should mightily applaud him and the Di Donna gallery proper now.