Picks and Pans Review: Man Ray Photographs

updated 08/23/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/23/1982 01:00AM

This marvelous volume was prepared at the time of a major exhibit of expatriate American Man Ray's work in Paris last year. No matter how many of his Dada and surreal images, erotic nudes or portraits you may have seen, this book has fresh work of a quantity and quality that conveys an astonishing range of technique and imagination. Many of the pictures evoke with great wit the Paris of the 1920s. A shirtless Man Ray (he is present in many of his photographs, occasionally in drag) has a rope around his neck and fondles a pistol. A pipe-smoking man has a five-pointed star shaved in the back of his head. Marcel Duchamp is a bearded Adam with a bejeweled nude Eve. An elegant nude woman at a printing press is smeared with printer's ink. Wood dolls are photographed in obscene poses. Some of the fashion photographs are sublime, and there are sharp, vivid portraits of Picasso, Miró, T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Stravinsky, Giacometti and a Dali with a tiny mustache. The text includes an interview with Ray, who died in 1976. He admits his cynical, outrageous stunts and silly titles helped him make a living. It was all for liberation's sake, he says: "When they said I was ahead of my times, I said, 'No, I'm not, I'm of my time, you are behind the times.' " Much of his work still has the surprise of the avant-garde. (Thames and Hudson, $35)

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