Autoportrait Man Ray
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Man Ray and Gert Jonkers

Man Ray, autoportrait © Man Ray 2015 Trust / Adagp, Paris 2020

On 18 September 1999 my then-colleagues gave me a birthday present in the form of Man Ray’s autobiography, in its Dutch translation, ‘Belicht Geheugen’. I know this because it says so on the title page in what clearly is my own handwriting. ‘From my colleagues, 18-9-99’. I’ve not read the book. In our current climate I’d have all the time in the world to read, one would think. And I do, but not the focus, and 170,000 words from Man Ray still sound like a stretch to me. His isn’t the only photographer’s biography that resides unread on my shelves. I haven’t read Helmut Newton’s autobiography either, nor Jack Fritscher’s (supposedly salacious) book on Robert Mapplethorpe. My bad. Had I read Man Ray’s, I would probably know that he considered himself a painter more than a photographer, and surely an artist more than a fashion photographer. I now know this because of a recent short piece I read (Man Ray at Di Donna Gallery, by Donald Kuspit, Artforum InternationalFeb. 2020. p.198). You see, I still read magazines. And I still look at photos such as Man Ray’s, and continue to be baffled by their extraordinariness.

M. Gert Jonkers, Editor, Publisher and Journalist

Read the other tributes

Man Ray and Fashion
from 23 September to 17 January 2021