Exhibition: ‘Man Ray: Unconcerned, but not indifferent’ at The Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands

Exhibition dates: 24th January 2009 – 19th April 2009


Man Ray. 'Self-portrait' 1924


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Gelatin silver print



Man Ray (1890-1976) used his camera to turn photography into an art – no mean feat for a man who tried almost all his life to avoid being described as a ‘photographer’. He preferred to be identified with his work in other media: drawings, paintings and Dadaist ready-mades. The exhibition entitled Unconcerned, but not indifferent at the Hague Museum of Photography is a large-scale retrospective of Man Ray’s art and life. It links paintings, drawings and (of course) photographs to personal objects, images and documents drawn from his estate to paint a picture of a passionate artist and – whatever his own feelings about the description – a great photographer.

Unconcerned, but not indifferent is the first exhibition to reveal Man Ray’s complete creative process: from observations, ideas and sketches right through to the final works of art. By establishing the linkage between art and inspiration, it gives a new insight into the work of Man Ray. The three hundred plus items on display are drawn from the estate of the artist, which is managed by the Man Ray Trust. Some of them have never been exhibited since the artist’s death in 1976 while others are on show for the first time ever.

Man Ray’s real name was Emmanuel Radnitzky. He was born in Philadelphia (USA) in 1890. The family soon moved to New York, where his artistic talent became increasingly apparent. Photography was not yet his medium: Man Ray, as he would later call himself, concentrated on painting and became friendly with Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp, who persuaded him to move to Paris (France). There, Man Ray moved in highly productive artistic circles full of Surrealists and Dadaists. He began taking photographs of his own (and other people’s) works of art and gradually became more interested in the photographic images than in the originals – which he regularly threw away or lost once he had photographed them.

By this time, commercial and art photography had become his main source of income and he was displaying an unbridled curiosity about the potential of the medium. This prompted a great urge to experiment and the discovery or rediscovery of various techniques, such as the famous ‘rayographs’ (photograms made without the use of a camera). Man Ray left Paris to escape the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Los Angeles, where he abandoned commercial photography to concentrate entirely on painting and photographic experimentation. However, his next real surge of creativity occurred only after he returned to Paris with his wife Juliet in 1951. In the last twenty-five years of his life, he regularly harked back to his earlier work and was not afraid to quote himself. In that sense, Man Ray can be seen as a true conceptual artist: the idea behind the work of art always interested him more than its eventual execution. Man Ray died in Paris in 1976 and is buried in Montparnasse. His widow, Juliet, summed up the artist’s life in the epitaph inscribed on his tombstone: Unconcerned, but not indifferent.

The exhibition examines the four separate creative phases in Man Ray’s life. Each is closely connected with the place where he was living (New York, Los Angeles or Paris), his friends at the time and the sources of inspiration around him. Using Man Ray’s artistic legacy and – perhaps more particularly – the everyday objects that were so important to him, Unconcerned, but not indifferent reveals the world as he saw it through the lens of his camera.

The exhibition is being held in cooperation with the Man Ray Trust in Long Island, New York, and La Fábrica in Madrid.

Text from the The Hague Museum of Photography

Many thankx to The Hague Museum of Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Man Ray (1890-1976) 'Rayograph' 1921


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Gelatin silver print


Man Ray. 'Noire et blanche' 1926


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Noire et blanche
Gelatin silver print


Man Ray. 'La priere' (Prayer) 1930


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
La priere (Prayer)
Gelatin silver print


Man Ray. 'Larmes' 1930


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Larmes (Tears)
Gelatin silver print


Man Ray.' Solarisation' 1931


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Gelatin silver print


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Juliet with Flower' [Juliet Browner] 1950s


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Juliet with Flower [Juliet Browner]
Painted transparency


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) 'Permanent Attraction' 1948 / c. 1971


Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Permanent Attraction
1948 / c. 1971
© Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/ADAGP, Paris 2018


'Man Ray: Unconcerned, but not indifferent' catalogue cover


Man Ray: Unconcerned, but not indifferent catalogue cover



The Hague Museum of Photography
Stadhouderslaan 43
2517 HV Den Haag
Phone: 31 (0)70 – 33 811 44

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 11 – 5pm
Closed Mondays

The Hague Museum of Photography website


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2 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Man Ray: Unconcerned, but not indifferent’ at The Hague Museum of Photography, The Netherlands”

  1. 1 Alan Cho
    July 19, 2011 at 10:17 am

    This is a great collection of images. Rayograph has reminded me of a work I saw not so long ago. does anybody else know about Abbé Faria? I saw “Bosh, it’s an artwork” in Berlin. He must have used the same ray-o-graph process to capture his glass marbles, I was told he carried them everywhere. Apparently they were in response to Richter’s Rhythmus 21 but this must have been in his thoughts as well…

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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