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Living in Paris, Man Ray earned a living as professional fashion and portrait photographer of the Parisian artists between the wars and intellectual elite: André Breton, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Arnold Schoenberg, Henri Matisse, Ernst Artaud and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few.
In his more personal life however, the life in which he frequented the parties of William Seabrook, diabolist, fetishist and recreational cannibal, his photographs convey the unashamed raw sexuality of the circles in which he moved, a world where naked girls were chained to the stairs during dinner. Unblinking, Man Ray snapped a succession of Seabrook's tableaux vivants and in these two photographs, he represents the high silver collar with studs designed at the request of William Seabrook for his wife Marjorie. The collar was designed to please his penchant for fetishism and, according to Man Ray's autobiography: was to follow the line of the chin thereby impending movement and forcing the head to be held up high.(1)
Through William Seabrook, Man Ray met his mistress and muse Alice Pin, known as `Kiki de Montparnasse' in 1921. Man Ray snapped hundreds of portraits of Kiki and many of his first `rayograph' images were of her. Man Ray's rayograph technique involved placing objects (in Kiki's case body parts) directly on photographic paper and exposing them to the light. Man Ray's imaginative energies led to the development of many new techniques and he dubbed himself a fautegrapher, a manipulator of straight photography.
1. Man Ray, Self Portrait, 1988, page 156
Estate of Juliet Man Ray to 1995
Tate, International Arts and Culture, Jan/Feb 2003, Issue 3, Pornography, Man Ray Laid Bare, pages 18-19