Man Ray, the great artist, on his greatest satisfaction

January 25, 2021 by Joshua
in Art, Creativity

I found a video I saved from ten or fifteen years ago, when I was showing my art in galleries and museums while backing up my hard drive—the closing minutes of a documentary on Man Ray. At the time I was watching all the videos on artists I could find at the library.

For those who don’t know him, he was big. From Wikipedia:

He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known for his photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Man Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called “rayographs” in reference to himself.

In 1999, ARTnews magazine named Man Ray one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century. The publication cited his groundbreaking photography, “his explorations of film, painting, sculpture, collage, assemblage and prototypes of what would eventually be called performance art and conceptual art.” ARTnews further stated that “Man Ray offered artists in all media an example of a creative intelligence that, in its ‘pursuit of pleasure and liberty’, unlocked every door it came to and walked freely where it would.”

The close of this video is the close of a documentary on his life, asked what satisfied him most in life. I kept the minute before for context, so you know his importance and influence. The producer and director probably could have closed with anything. I presume they chose to close with this quote with careful deliberation and reflection to convey the man.

Before watching, consider for yourself, what might you expect one of the 25 most influential artists say satisfied him most, considering whom he worked with, where he showed, how much he innovated, and all that goes with reaching that status.

Then after watching, what does his answer mean to you? For me, I can tell you that I value artists for expressing common humanity in ways that feel true though we have trouble saying otherwise, which I would have said before watching this video.

The closing of a documentary on Man Ray

What do you think? What inspires you? What satisfies you? How do you reach your potential?

EDIT: After posting, I see I posted on this video before, nine and a half years ago, The essence of creativity, as expressed by Man Ray. I guess after posting a decade, I forget some of what I’ve posted.

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