Revolving Doors

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In 1919, Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, 1890-1976) had his third solo exhibition at the Daniel Gallery, run by a former saloon owner Charles Daniel (1878-1971) and the poet Alanson Hartpence (1883-1946). By this time, Man Ray was losing interest in oil painting and the show featured airbrush drawings (called aerographs) and several installations.

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One of these, called Revolving Doors, featured ten collages made from colorful construction paper cut-up and pasted onto white cardboard. Each collage was framed and hinged onto a rotating support, so that the entire ensemble could be spun like a revolving door. When Daniel asked the artist to give the audience an explanation, Man Ray wrote long labels for each panel. For instance, the Dragonfly label read in part: “The lozenges of different colored wills to ascension are a fairly accurate record of the creature’s struggles.”

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Man Ray moved to Paris in the 1920s but continued to explore this series in a variety of mediums, including a pochoir edition published by Editions Surréalistes in 1926. The following year, Man Ray gave a copy to Henri Pierre Roché (1879-1959, who would later write Jules et Jim.) This made its way into the Charles Rahn Fry Pochoir Collection, and ultimately to Princeton University.

Man Ray (1890-1976), Revolving Doors, 1916-1917 (Paris: Editions Surréalistes, 1926). Copy 71 of 105. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-0007E