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A Delightful Feast Of Art At 'Cafe Man Ray'

January 21, 1986|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | Times Art Writer

An exorbitant rent hike at their Hollywood apartment and the artist's hope of salvaging works left behind in Paris convinced the couple to return to France in 1951. They settled into a spacious studio on Rue Ferou (near the Luxembourg Gardens), where they remained to his death in 1976 and where Juliet maintains a huge collection of his work and an ever-growing archive.

Currently working on a major retrospective of Man Ray's work (set to open in 1988 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art before traveling across the country and closing in Europe), she took time out to help gallery director David Fahey organize the exhibition at Hawkins.

Juliet's idea of concentrating on work from Man Ray's decade in Hollywood was eventually expanded to represent a wider scope of his oeuvre, including three late sculptures (with objects trapped in bottles) and the artist's last photograph--a self-portrait shot while his hair was being cut. About 175 pieces from Juliet's cache in Paris are accompanied by photographs from Dennis Powers' New York-based collection.

Throughout the show (to March 1), visitors see an inquiring, irreverent mind at work and a relentless eye for absurdity. If Man Ray was a photographer to the stars in Hollywood and Paris, he was also a sympathetic ironist. Avant-garde writer and film maker Hans Richter has characterized Man Ray as a "pessimistic optimist." His wife remembers him best as a man with "a wonderful sense of humor."

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