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 International, Feb. 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