“It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.” Man Ray
Founding member of both the Surrealism and Dada movements, Man Ray is that freak artist whose massive body of work seemingly has something inspiring for almost everybody. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, fashion photography, movie making, Man Ray did it all. Friend and collaborator with the likes of Dali, Hemingway and Duchamp, Man Ray was born today in 1890 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stark, stunning and sometimes a little unnerving, the work of Man Ray in every medium is utterly unforgettable.
In an interview from the 1970’s towards the end of his life, Man Ray was famously quoted, “I have been accused of being a joker. But the most successful art to me involves humor.” Joker or not, Man Ray’s most memorable pieces are the ones that winkingly give the viewer something to smile about or something unexpected.
At the age of 86, Man Ray passed away and was buried in Paris. His sense of humor is immortalized on his tomb stone with the words: Unconcerned but not indifferent.
Many an art student has pondered the meaning of Man Ray’s epitaph and the internet, as you can imagine, is filled with heated discussions all claiming to know what he was thinking when he chose those words. I think he’d get a laugh out of that too. To me, the words personify the way he created art and lived his life. He wasn’t filled with worry but he wasn’t dispassionate either. Man Ray loved life and loved love (he was married twice, had several scandalous affairs and was spent his last days with his beloved Juliet whom you see buried with him above).
Today, on a Monday filled with big projects and annoying “to do” tasks, I think being unconcerned but not indifferent might be a wise path to choose. Also on busy days like this it’s important for me not to take myself too seriously so I’ll try to do that too. And lastly, I want to marinate on that opening quote of his today too by taking even little steps to realize my dreams.