National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Pablo Picasso Man Ray (artist)
American, 1890 - 1976
Pablo Picasso, 1932
gelatin silver print
sheet (trimmed to image): 29.9 x 23.9 cm (11 3/4 x 9 7/16 in.)
Patrons' Permanent Fund
Not on View
From the Tour: Modern Portraits in Photography
Object 7 of 13

Man Ray (1890–1976) was a key member of the Dada and surrealist circles in Paris and New York from the 1910s through the 1930s. Although best known for his photographs, Man Ray rested his claim to art above all on his activities as a painter. He nevertheless marketed his other skills tactically. Arriving in Paris in 1921, he quickly established himself as a portrait photographer, working with artists and for magazines such as Vanity Fair and Vogue. At the same time, Man Ray's cameraless "rayographs" (made by placing objects on photosensitive paper and then exposing the paper directly to light) were well publicized and became key models of artistic innovation among European photographers and painters.

This apparently prosaic picture of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) in fact does much to convey the painter's formidable personality. In the age of celebrity, it is not necessary to show a person's trappings or the attributes of his trade, as in older portraiture. Everyone knows who Picasso is. His fame becomes itself a subject of study. Centering his sitter firmly at eye level, Man Ray suggests that Picasso has won his renown thanks to a vital strength of character. The painter's magnetic, penetrating stare confirms his legendarily possessive insight, and from this vantage point his relaxed hands and upper body seem particularly forceful. Man Ray's portrait, like many of the works on this tour, imparts a deliberate air of casualness. Thrillingly, that intimacy seems here to banish the distance conferred by media renown, as if one found oneself face to face with a Hollywood star.

Full Screen Image
Artist Information
Exhibition History

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