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A Cinematic Artist

The Films of Man Ray


Kim Knowles

The American artist Man Ray was one of the most influential figures of the historical avant-garde, contributing significantly to the development of both Dadaism and Surrealism. Whilst his pioneering work in photography assured him international acclaim, his activity in other areas, notably film, is to this day both unknown and undervalued.
During the 1920s Man Ray made four short experimental films and collaborated on a host of other projects with people such as Marcel Duchamp, Fernand Léger, René Clair and Hans Richter. These works, along with a series of cinematic essays and home movies made during the 1920s and 1930s, represent the most important contribution to the development of an alternative mode of filmmaking in the early twentieth century. This book explores Man Ray’s cinematic interactions from the perspective of his interdisciplinary artistic sensibility, creating links between film, photography, painting, poetry, music, architecture, dance and sculpture. By exposing his preoccupation with form, and his ambiguous relationship with the politics and aesthetics of the Dada and Surrealist movements, the author paints an intimate and complex portrait of Man Ray the filmmaker.


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Acknowledgements vii


Acknowledgements This book grew out of a passion for early avant-garde and experimental film, for which I owe sincere thanks to the late Dietrich Scheunemann. I also benefited greatly from the many discussions with my good friends and fellow avant-garde scholars Monika Koencke, Anna Schaf fner and Ruth Hemus. I am especially grateful to Barbara Brown, John Glendin- ning, Alan Whyte, Fiona Carmichael and Peter Glasgow at the Language and Humanities Centre, University of Edinburgh, for years of invaluable support and assistance. Elza Adamowicz and Ramona Fotiade of fered their expert advice on the first draft of the manuscript and gave me the confidence to put it into print, and Pip Chodorov set me on the right path in terms of illustrations. Thanks to Laura Ward-Ure at DACS, Sophie Perrot at ADAGP, and Raphaëlle Cartier, Caroline De Lambertye and Vladana Jonquet at Réunion des Musées Nationaux for all their help with obtaining copyright, film stills and photographic reproductions. Sincere thanks to Hannah Godfrey and Mette Bundgaard at Peter Lang Publish- ers for their patience and advice with practical issues, and to George May for the French translations. Special thanks also to Marion Schmid for her friendship and encouragement and to Dee Atkinson for moral support and health-boosting herbs. Much respect and gratitude goes to Martine Beugnet; I would not have got this far were it not for her unwavering faith and guidance over the years. Finally, to Laurence for unconditional love, companionship and, above all, for sharing...

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