Born Emmanuel Radnitsky, on August 27, 1890, in Philadelphia, the first of four children of Melach Radnitsky, a tailor, and Manya Louria (or Lourie), both Russian-Jewish immigrants.

    He assumed the single combined first and last name of Man Ray when his entire family adopted the surname Ray in 1911. The family moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1897, where Man Ray, with family encouragement, early manifested his enduring fascination with gadgets, objects, and inventions as well as with art.

    Man Ray, particularly inspired by the cubist works at the Armory Show of 1913, absorbed the iconoclasm of the young poets, radicals, and artists then giving a new flavor to New York life. That year he moved out of the family home first to Manhattan and then to a little cottage in an artists’ colony in Ridgefield, New Jersey.

    The New York art world provided Man Ray with stimulating companions, but efforts to create a climate for modernism and dada in the city failed, and he found no buyers for his newer, less inhibited work. In about 1918 he and his wife separated, although they did not divorce until 1937. His marriage having collapsed, Man Ray burned a number of his older works, borrowed $500, and set off to Paris in July 1921.

    Man Ray’s reputation among French artists as well as in the fashion industry grew even as American critics, dubious about photography as art, viewed him as an illusionist, a trickster, and an entrepreneur.

    His success, however, was undeniable. The subjects of his portraits included Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Francis Poulenc, and Ernest Hemingway in the arts as well as such social notables as Nancy Cunard and the Marquise Casati, whose double-exposed face with two pairs of eyes both pleased its subject and became a surrealist icon.