“It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.”

Man Ray (1890 – 1976) was born Emanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia on August 27, 1890. By the time of his death in Paris on November 18, 1976, Man Ray was well-known as an enigmatic and experimental visual artist who still today defies definition or classification.

Without doubt, Man Ray was a charismatic, iconic and international protagonist of the modern art scene that emerged in the 20th century. Famous as an important exponent of the Dada and Surrealist movements, he was tied to neither. From New York, Paris, Los Angeles and back to Paris, he experimented with many mediums and techniques. Although
he considered himself foremost a painter, he dabbled in sculpture, drawing, film and is perhaps best known for his photography.

This exhibition of +120 works explores the creative genius of Man Ray, a man who fully embraced his own life, a visionary artist who once provocatively declared “I never painted a recent painting.” The exhibition draws upon a superb European private collection and presents an evocative overview of this eclectic artist’s life, career, a multitude of his passions and in particular his love for chess. It includes iconic works of painting and sculpture as well as drawings, photogravures, “rayographs,” vintage photography, other objects and documents of his own collecting and six of his treasured chess sets. It includes the masterpiece Pandora, Portrait of Ava Gardner and a focus on the years Man Ray spent in
Hollywood, his relationship with Albert Lewin and his involvement in the 1951 Surrealistic film classic, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman.

This very unique and comprehensive collection reflects the intense scholarship, dedication and passion of a very private collector. Rarely have works of this collection been on public display, and only at very prestigious venues such as the Tate Modern, London, MNAC, Barcelona, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, to name a few, and as a collection, at the Kaohsiung Fine Art Museum, Taiwan. Provenance is well-documented as are records of previous exhibitions and catalogue publications. The 6 different chess sets constitute the largest, existing collection of Man Ray chess sets.

Original Works
  • 4 original paintings dating from 1916-1950
  • 5 original drawings dating from 1929-1954
  • 6 signed chess sets dating from 1926–1973
  • 7 sculptural or 3-dimensional objects dating from 1931–1974
  • 11 original photographs from The Milky Way series (1973) + 2 original photographs
  • 12 Lithographs, signed and numbered (1971), The Origin of the Species by Way of Irrational Selection
  • 22 Heliogravures, Rayographs, solarizations printed for 1934 edition of Photographs of Man Ray 1920-1934
  • Ca. 25 B&W Vintage photography from Hollywood and film set of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
  • Ca. 25 associated printed materials
  • Pandora, Portrait of Ava Gardner, oil on canvas (1950)
  • Largest, existing collection of Man Ray-signed chess sets
  • Heliogravure prints for the 1934 1st edition of Photographs by Man Ray 1920 -1934, printing personally supervised by Man Ray
Exhibition Materials

High resolution images, captions, object labels and wall texts.


Requires approx. 125 linear meters (350 – 400 ft.) of linear display space.

Characteristics of Collection
  • Geographical location of the collection: Europe (Italy).
  • All hanging works are shipped framed as per international museum standards.
  • Collection includes shipping crates and packing materials, fabricated to international standards, to ensure safe ‘nail-to-nail’ transport.
  • Collection is comprehensive, covering a substantial representation of the artist’s body of work making it capable of serving as a stand-alone exhibition.
  • Museum curators are provided with extensive information and may curate the exhibition to their audiences, subject to review.
  • Appropriate artworks from the borrowing institution’s collections may be added to the exhibition.

Selected Works