Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s
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This object is a member of the following groups (click any group name to view all objects in that group):Exhibitions: In and Out of Place
On the two years he spent living and painting in Ridgefield, New Jersey (1913-15) , Man Ray wrote, "My mind was in turmoil, the turmoil of a seed that has been planted in fertile ground, ready to break through.”<sup>1</sup> A few months prior to crossing the Hudson River from Manhattan to this former artists' colony, he had visited the Armory Show, a monumental display of European and American modernism that succeeded in jolting the complacent community of New York artists and collectors fixed on a tradition of figurative art. He was so overpowered by the event that he later averred, "I did nothing for six months. It took me that time to digest what I had seen."<sup>2</sup>
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.
<i>Ridgefield</i> 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,<sup>3</sup> 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.”<sup>4</sup>
<i>Ridgefield</i> 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:
<i>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.</i><sup>5</sup>
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,”<sup>6</sup> as he put it, devising in his <a href=“http://accessaddison.andover.edu/Obj4483">Rayographs</a> what is perhaps his signature achievement.
Debra Bricker Balken, <i>Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, A Selective Catalogue</i> (Andover, Massachusetts: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1996), pp. 426
1. Man Ray, <i>Self Portrait</i> (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963), p. 44.
2. Quoted in C. Lewis Hind, "Wanted, A Name," <i>Christian Science Monitor</i> (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., <i>Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray</i> (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art, 1988), p. 55.
3. This observation comes from Naumann, p. 56.
4. May Ray, <i>Self Portrait</i>, p. 33.
5. Man Ray, "Statement," in <i>The Forum Exhibition of Modern American Painters</i> (New York: Anderson Galleries, March 1916). Reprinted in <i>Art in Theory, 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas</i>, 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
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