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Portrait of Francis Picabia

Portrait of Francis Picabia

Man Ray (in 1925-1930)

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Title Portrait of Francis Picabia
Material and technique Vintage gelatin silver print on fibre-based paper
Object type
Photograph > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Width Error: 15,9 is not a valid BCD value cm
Height Error: 20,2 is not a valid BCD value cm
Artists Artist: Man Ray
Accession number 3504 (MK)
Credits Purchased with the support of Mondriaan Fund, 2002
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 2002
Creation date in 1925-1930
Entitled parties © Man Ray Trust / ADAGP, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2018
Provenance Provenance Tristan Tzara, 1920-21; Theo van Doesburg; Nelly van Doesburg-Van Moorsel; Wies van Moorsel; on loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands 1999-2002
Exhibitions Exhibitions Rotterdam 2017b
Internal exhibitions Surreëel: foto's uit de collectie van Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2011)
Collectie - surrealisme (2017)
External exhibitions Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Research Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Gelatine silver print > Bromide print > Photographic printing technique > Mechanical > Planographic printing > Printing technique > Technique > Material and technique

Entry catalogue A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen

Author: Marijke Peyser

During the ambitious Exhibition of Modern Art, better known as the Armory Show, which was staged in New York in 1913, Man Ray saw and admired the work submitted by Francis Picabia.[1] The artists met at one of the parties hosted by the wealthy collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg. They were evenings where le tout New York flirted, drank and talked about art.[2] Man Ray and Picabia, together with Marcel Duchamp, formed the core of the Dada group in New York. They recognized one another in their non-conformist thoughts and actions.

In 1921 Man Ray left New York and in July of that year moved to Paris. In his new home he was in dire financial straits and he pinned his hopes on the success of the exhibition of his works that he had brought with him from America (see Cadeau / Audace).[3] It was a disappointment: not a single work was sold. Man Ray decided not to wait for recognition, but to concentrate on photography.[4]

It proved to be a wise decision; his photographic work found favour commercially as well as artistically. In 1922, thanks to Picabia’s wife Gabrielle Buffet, he was able to work for the Parisian couturier Paul Poiret. The photographs Man Ray took for the fashion house were original: a fusion of fashion and art with a measure of sex appeal. Man Ray achieved success with these photographs, and other commissions soon followed. He stood out from the established photographers, who followed the taste of the general public and steered clear of innovation. His professional commissions illustrated magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and the French magazine VU.[5] In addition to portrait commissions and fashion shots he experimented with a technique he named after himself, ‘rayography’ – the short exposure to light of a piece of light-sensitive paper on which various objects were placed (see Rayographie).

A request from Picabia, who asked Man Ray to photograph his paintings, was the beginning of a new speciality: photographing artworks.[6] Max Ernst, Georges Braque, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dalí, Jean Hugo, Marie Laurencin, André Masson, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau and Yves Tanguy all made use of Man Ray’s services. At the end of every photoshoot Man Ray always took a photograph of the artist concerned. He commented: I always save one shot for the end of the session to take a free portrait photograph of the artist. I keep the best for last.[7] Portrait of Francis Picabia is an example of this.



[1] This first major exhibition of modern art in the United States introduced Fauvism and Cubism: avant-garde styles from Europe. Well before this time the art dealer and photographer Alfred Stieglitz had been a trail-blazer with his Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, better known as ‘291’, from its address on Fifth Avenue, New York.

[2] Baldwin 1988, pp. 52-53.

[3] The exhibition was staged in the Librairie Six, Paris in December 1921.

[4] Man Ray 1963, pp. 107-12.

[5] See Terence Pepper, ‘Man Ray Portraits in print – continuing research and dialogue’, National Portrait Gallery, http://www.npg.org.uk/blog/man-ray-portraits-in-print-continuing-research-and-dialogue.php (consulted 4 September 2016).

[6] Man Ray 1963, p. 115.

[7] Paris 1998, p. 24.

Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
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