Cover image for Conversion to Modernism : the early work of Man Ray
Conversion to Modernism : the early work of Man Ray
Naumann, Francis M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press : Montclair Art Museum, [2003]

Physical Description:
xx, 261 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
General Note:
Itinerary, Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, Feb. 16, 2003-Aug. 3, 2003 and others.
Youth and first artistic impulses (1907-1911) -- The Ferrer Center: formulating the aesthetics of anarchism (1912) -- Stieglitz, Ridgefield, and the assimilation of a modernist Aesthetic (1913: part 1) -- New words for new images: Adon Lacroix and the new modern poetry movement (1913: part 2) -- Approaching the art of painting in two dimensions: the paintings, drawings, and watercolors of 1914 -- The art of painting in two dimensions, part 1: the paintings, drawings, and watercolors of 1915 -- The art of painting in two dimensions, part 2: the paintings, drawings, watercolors, and collages of 1916 -- The art of painting in more than two dimensions: the paintings, drawings, watercolors, cliché verre, and airbrush compositions of 1917-1919 -- From an art in two dimensions to the higher dimension of ideas (1920-1921).
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6537.R3 A4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Man Ray (1890-1976) has long been considered one of the most versatile and innovative artists of the twentieth century. As a painter, writer, sculptor, photographer, and filmmaker, he is best known for his intimate association with the French Surrealist group in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, particularly for his highly inventive and unconventional photographic images. These remarkable accomplishments, however, have tended to overshadow the importance of his earlier work--significant not only for comprehending Man Ray's future artistic development, but also for fleshing out our understanding of the visual arts in America during one of the most important and crucial phases of the evolution of modernism.

The book, and the exhibition for which this work will serve as the catalog, concentrate on Man Ray's production from 1907 to 1917. Conversion to Modernism will be the first comprehensive, fully illustrated work to examine this artist's seminal years. The show and the catalog begin with Man Ray's high school years in Brooklyn, his studies at the Art Students League and the American Academy in New York, and the time he spent in life drawing classes at the more progressive Ferrer Center

From 1913 to 1915, Man Ray lived in a small artists' colony in Grantwood, New Jersey. It was here, studying with Samuel Halpert (a former student of Matisse), that Man Ray began to become the artist we know today. The last section of the show and of the book include recently discovered photographs and other works that are influenced by a knowledge of the emergent Dada movement. Here is Man Ray in recognizable form just before he leaves the country for France in 1921.

This exhibit will first be on display at the Montclair Art Museum from January 26 through March 2003. It will then travel to museums in Athens, Georgia, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

Author Notes

Francis M. Naumann is the author of numerous articles and exhibition catalogues, including New York Data 1915-25 and Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Making Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Gail Stavitsky is chief curator at the Montclair Art Museum, where she has written many exhibition catalogues, including Will Barnet: A Timeless World

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this well-documented catalog with prints of recently discovered photographs, Naumann demonstrates the importance of the 20th-century artist Man Ray on the criticism of his day. Ray was accused of imitating Picasso and Duchamp; one critic said his work resembled a drunken patternmaker (Man Ray's father worked as a tailor in the home). Naumann illustrates that Ray's theoretical writings anticipate modern art by 50 years. He acknowledges Ray's debt to Duchamp but claims that Man Ray's work is different in that his "Ready Mades" are simple poetic images, unlike the work of Duchamp. Naumann provides an informative background to Ray's life in the Ridgefield, New Jersey, artist colony and how influential that experience was for the artist's development. He demonstrates how Ray moved from illusion of depth to abstraction; by using collage-related techniques, his sense of space is compressed and flattened, creating an overpowering frontality to his work. This handsome catalog was published on the occasion of the exhibition Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray, organized by the Montclair Art Museum of New Jersey. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals. M. Kren Kansas State University

Table of Contents

Patterson SimsFrancis M. NaumannGail Stavitsky
List of Illustrations and Works in the Exhibitionp. vii
Foreword and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Lenders to the Exhibitionp. xv
Prefacep. xvii
1 Youth and First Artistic Impulses (1907-1911)p. 3
2 The Ferrer Center: Formulating the Aesthetics of Anarchism (1912)p. 17
3 Stieglitz, Ridgefield, and the Assimilation of a Modernist Aesthetic (1913: Part 1)p. 30
4 New Words for New Images: Adon Lacroix and the Modern Poetry Movement (1913: Part 2)p. 50
5 Approaching the Art of Painting in Two Dimensions: The Paintings, Drawings, and Watercolors of 1914p. 73
6 The Art of Painting in Two Dimensions, Part 1: The Paintings, Drawings, and Watercolors of 1915p. 111
7 The Art of Painting in Two Dimensions, Part 2: The Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, and Collages of 1916p. 145
8 The Art of Painting in More than Two Dimensions: The Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, Cliche Verre, and Airbrush Compositions of 1917-1919p. 175
9 From an Art in Two Dimensions to the Higher Dimension of Ideas (1920-1921)p. 208
Afterword: Artists and Art Colonies of Ridgefield, New Jerseyp. 217
A. A Primer of the New Art of Two Dimensionsp. 225
B. Texts for The Revolving Doorsp. 226
C. Card Filep. 228
Chronologyp. 229
Notesp. 235
Bibliographyp. 251
Indexp. 257