Why The Wall Street Journal Is A Great Newspaper (Man Ray Edition)

Fascinating Wall Street Journal feature on the state of Surrealist Man Ray’s artistic estate:

The Surreal Selling of Man Ray

How a Long Island family with an auto-body shop wound up controlling the artist’s legacy. The $20 million collection in the garage.

Man Ray, a pioneering photographer and Jazz Age colleague of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, died in Paris more than three decades ago, but what’s left of his studio can still be found—in a car-repair shop on New York’s Long Island.

Beyond this shop’s no-frills showroom, which is lined with upholstered seat covers, sits the headquarters of the Man Ray Trust. The trust consists of 16 freezer-size vaults containing about 4,500 works from the artist’s estate. These archives include Dadaist and Surrealist photographs of the artist’s muse Kiki de Montparnasse, as well as props Man Ray used to make some of his experimental, camera-free images, called Rayographs. (One prop box is labeled “Slinky, Wrench, Razorblade, Bullet, Comb, Can Opener, Many Metal Pieces.”)

Now, the collection is being privately shopped to museums, with a price tag of $20 million.

Art dealers, the Journal reports, peg the value of the collection somehere between $3 million and $6 million.

But that doesn’t subtract from the allure of this story about a workaday family – the Browners, related to Man Ray’s widow Juliet – that wound up controlling the celebrated artist’s archive.

Check it out – it’s a great read.

P.S. The hardworking staff thumbnailed the Jewish Museum’s 2009/10 Alias Man Ray exhibit here. Campaign Outsider Bonus Quote™ from Man Ray: “Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival.”

Tell us about it.

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5 Responses to Why The Wall Street Journal Is A Great Newspaper (Man Ray Edition)

  1. Bob Gardner says:

    If you know how to spot the clues on the outside of the envelope you can get pretty good idea of how many of your neighbors got this mailing, ie. how special Heritage really thinks you are.

    • Campaign Outsider says:

      Thanks, Bob. Fortunately, the hardworking staff doesn’t know how to spot the clues. So we blissfully continue to think we’re special.

  2. Bob Gardner says:

    Sorry, the above was posted to the wrong place–it should go to “The Heritage Foundation wants . . . us.”

  3. With all due respect to Montparnasse, muses have come a long way.

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