The American artist Man Ray is best known for his photography and the reason for this is twofold. He was restlessly experimental, producing both groundbreaking and entertaining works, but he also extensively documented the artistic circles in which he moved – meaning his photographs are some of the finest taken of the leading figures in Surrealism and Dada.
Man Ray Portraits, a major retrospective of the artist's work, opened at the National Portrait Gallery back in February to critical acclaim. Now, visitors have just under a month left to see this important exhibition. Fans of modern art and photography enthusiasts should be equally enthralled by the works on display and are urged, therefore, to pay the gallery a visit before May 27th.
Born in Philadelphia in 1890, Man Ray took up photography purely as a means of reproducing his paintings and drawings. However some of his earliest surviving photographic works, which date back to 1916, were pictures of Marcel Duchamp – setting the scene for a distinguished career in portraiture.
Ray eventually left the US for Paris, where he later met the model Lee Miller and together perfected the process of 'solarisation', where dark areas of a photograph are selectively rendered light and vice versa. Ray's portraits of Miller are a highlight of the exhibition, though the National Portrait Gallery's showcase also includes amazing pictures of Pablo Picasso, Kiki de Montparnasse and Catherine Deneuve.
Man Ray Portraits includes a total of over 150 works borrowed from museums and private collections around the world, making it one of the biggest Man Ray exhibitions ever held.
The gallery is still holding a number of unique events up until the show's conclusion, including a special two-day workshop led by photographer Anthony Luvera. Held on May 25th and 26th, the event will allow attendees to make their own experimental portraits with a large-format digital camera.
Served by the Charing Cross tube stop, the National Portrait Gallery enjoys a central location that is easy to reach for those staying in London hotels.