A Brief Bio of Man Ray

October 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Photography

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By Phineas Upham

While Man Ray sought to distance himself from his family’s humble roots in the garment industry, the needlework and tailoring left an unmistakable mark on him as a man and an artist. One can see it in his collages, where the style is not all that different from the kind one might use in elegant pathwork. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1890, the eldest child of two Russian-Jewish immigrants as a Radnitzky, but the family changed its name to “Ray” in response to the anti-Semitism prevalent at that time.

His time at the Brooklyn Boy’s High School gave him the foundation for drafting and art he needed to express himself. He showed promise from a fairly early age, and supplemented his education with frequent visits to local museums. There, he would observe the great masters of his craft and learn from what they’d already done.

He brought his ambitions home, but his parents were not so eager for him to pursue art. After some convincing, they arranged to convert his room into an art studio and gave him 4 years to work on his art. He managed to pioneer that artistic opportunity into a career as a draft artist for several companies in Manhattan.

Ray spent the majority of his career in France, where he produced a variety of media but became most well known for photography. He also produced photograms, which he created by placing objects directly onto light-sensitive materials while exposing those materials to light, which he called “Rayographs” because he felt it was his own medium.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.