25 in. x 30 in. (63.5 cm x 76.2 cm)
Man Ray's first introduction to the precepts of modernist painting actually came by way of Alfred Stieglitz's 291 Gallery in New York, which he began frequenting as early as 1910. There he acquired a fragmented, idiosyncratic take on some of the latest vanguard developments in contemporary art. From Stieglitz's exhibitions of Cézanne's and Rodin's watercolors, and work by Brancusi and Picasso, he gleaned a partial understanding of an abstract, reductivist aesthetic that involved flattening the picture plane into elemental shapes and parts. Although it took seeing the Armory Show, with its expansive sweep of modernism, to round out his view of the implications of these formalist ideas, Man Ray was predisposed toward abstract art almost from the outset of his career.
Ridgefield is a synthetic work, one that is constructed from multiple stylistic sources. While the imprint of Cézanne is readable in the overall patterning of forms as flat, geometric constituents, the primary influence here is Samuel Halpert,3 an American artist who had spent time in Paris and with whom Man Ray first shared a cabin in Ridgefield. The crisp, black outline that defines and structures the hills in this landscape is a convention that Ray appropriated from Halpert and Halpert's study of Fauve painting. During this formative period, Ray incorporated a number of preexisting stylistic inventions in his work, a practice that he felt was his artistic prerogative: "I have never worried about influences—there had been so many— every new painter whom I discovered was a source of inspiration and emulation. If there had been no predecessors, I might not have continued painting. Sufficient that I chose my influences—my masters.”4
Ridgefield is part of series of plein air landscapes. Thereafter, as subject matter ceased to play any meaningful, narrative role in his painting, Man Ray limited his production to the studio and pursued only the conceptual, theoretical dimensions of these early landscapes. As a result, the space of his painting became increasingly planar. Within this finite area of investigation, he mined the prospects of his future work:
Working on a single plane as the instantaneously visualizing factor, he [the artist] realizes his mind motives and physical sensations in a permanent and universal language of color, texture and, form organization. He uncovers the pure plane of expression that has so long been hidden by the glazings of nature imitation, and anecdote, and other popular subject.5
Once unconstrained by the trappings of a subject, Man Ray was able to move by 1922 "beyond the sticky medium of paint and work directly with light itself,”6 as he put it, devising in his Rayographs what is perhaps his signature achievement.
Debra Bricker Balken, Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, A Selective Catalogue (Andover, Massachusetts: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1996), pp. 426
1. Man Ray, Self Portrait (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963), p. 44.
2. Quoted in C. Lewis Hind, "Wanted, A Name," Christian Science Monitor (November-December 1919). Noted in Francis Naumann, "Man Ray 1908-1921: From an Art in Two Dimensions to the Higher Dimension of Ideas," in Merry Foresta et al., Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1988), p. 55.
3. This observation comes from Naumann, p. 56.
4. May Ray, Self Portrait, p. 33.
5. Man Ray, "Statement," in The Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters (New York: Anderson Galleries, March 1916). Reprinted in Art in Theory, 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, ed. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1992), p. 274.
6. Man Ray to Ferdinand Howald, 5 April 1992. Quoted in Foresta et al., p. 116.
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
- Art Begins at Home: The Addison Gallery Gift Plan Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/17/1943 - 10/11/1943
- New Accessions U.S.A. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center , 7/12/1948 - 9/5/1948
- Amerika Schildert [America Paints] Stedelijk Museum , 6/16/1950 - 9/10/1950
- Loan to Mrs. Marvin Notkins , 9/17/1951 - 1/30/1952
- American Painting, 1900-1950 University of Miami Art Gallery , 2/25/1952 - 3/14/1952
- Loan to Governor Dummer Academy Governor Dummer Academy , 11/8/1955 - 1/3/1956
- Scope in Collecting [25th Anniversary Exhibition] Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/19/1956 - 12/24/1956
- Loan to Stevens Memorial Library Stevens Memorial Library , 5/3/1957 - 7/9/1959
- The City and the Land: The Rural and Industrial Problem of Their Reconciliation The Davison Art Center, Weslyan University , 10/18/1961 - 11/4/1961
- Art in American History Addison Gallery of American Art , 7/22/1962 - 10/28/1962
- Nothing is Certain But Change Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/18/1975 - 5/18/1975
- The Split-Up: The Beginning of a New Art in America Addison Gallery of American Art , 3/13/1981 - 4/12/1981
- Masterworks of American Art from the Addison Gallery Collection Hirschl and Adler Galleries, Inc. , 10/6/1981 - 10/31/1981
- Andover Garden Club Addison Gallery of American Art , 11/5/1982 - 11/7/1982
- Landscapes from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/1/1983 - 5/1/1983
- The Advent of Modernism: Post Impressionism and North American Art, 1900-1918 High Museum of Art , 3/5/1986 - 4/19/1987
- American Masterworks Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/5/1990 - 12/16/1990
- American Abstraction at the Addison Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/18/1991 - 7/31/1991
- Point of View: Landscapes from the Addison Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/16/1992 - 12/20/1992
- American Abstraction from the Addison Gallery of American Art American Federation of Arts , 2/27/1993 - 12/4/1994
- Andover Alumni Collectors Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/29/1995 - 7/30/1995
- Masterworks from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/5/1995 - 12/17/1995
- Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/13/1996 - 7/31/1996
- Parallel Perspectives: Early Twentieth Century American Art Addison Gallery of American Art , 11/16/1999 - 5/1/2000
- The American Land: Selections from the Addison Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 1/19/2001 - 4/8/2001
- Place and Perceptions Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/16/2002 - 7/31/2002
- Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray The Montclair Art Museum , 2/16/2003 - 4/4/2004
- Eye on the Collection: Copley to Hopper Addison Gallery of American Art , 12/21/2004 - 6/12/2005
- Eye on the Collection: West to Hopper Addison Gallery of American Art , 6/17/2005 - 10/16/2005
- Toward Abstraction Addison Gallery of American Art , 12/23/2005 - 3/26/2006
- Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s American Federation of Arts , 9/9/2006 - 9/7/2009
- So Long, Farewell Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/7/2007 - 7/31/2007
- Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/7/2010 - 3/27/2011
- 80 @ 80 Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/15/2011 - 12/31/2011
- Industrial Strength: Selections from the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 2/1/2014 - 4/13/2014
- Exterior Spaces, Interior Places Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/2/2014 - 1/4/2015
- Searching for the Real Addison Gallery of American Art , 5/30/2015 - 7/31/2015
- Selections from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/12/2015 - 3/13/2016
- Selections from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/30/2016 - 7/31/2016
- Eye on the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/1/2016 - 3/19/2017
- In and Out of Place Addison Gallery of American Art , 2/16/2019 - 7/31/2019
- Currents/Crosscurrents: American Art, 1850–1950 Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/16/2020 - 3/7/2021
- [permanent collection, 101-105] Addison Gallery of American Art , 6/25/2022 - 1/29/2023
This object has the following bibliographic references:
- merchandise associated with Coming of Age exhibition . Dulwich Picture Gallery.
This object is a member of the following portfolios:
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