I’m on an art kick! After last week’s memorable trip to the SFMOMA (and a successful bus-wrap campaign that caught my eye), I ventured out to the Avenues of the Outer Richmond to explore the Man Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism exhibit.
I was first introduced to Man Ray in an Art Appreciation class in high school, having studied “Violin d’Ingres,” “Object to Be Destroyed,” and “Observatory Time.” I was curious to see additional works by this Surrealist master, as well as learn more about his muse, Lee Miller, who started out as a model, but was a photographer in her own right. While Man Ray’s name was enough to get me in the door, it was Miller’s talent that left the greatest impression on me.
While Ray and Miller only lived together for three chaotic and passionate years, it’s quite apparent that their time together heavily influenced their art. For Miller, it was an immediate affect, resulting in different development techniques in the dark room; for Ray, it was a pain that haunted him for years afterward, but also inspired two of his most recognizable pieces (the aforementioned “Object to be Destroyed” and “Observatory Time”). One of the more poignant pieces in the collection are typed out letters from Ray to Miller after she left him in Paris and returned to New York City to open her own studio.
After leaving Ray, Miller worked for Vogue and became a war photographer, covering the first use of napalm in France, the liberation of Paris and documenting the horrors that occurred in the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. Through Miller’s trained Surrealist eye, these events transcend their horrifying roots and become art that compels you to see brutality through another perspective.
Outside of the pieces that Ray and Miller composed on their own, the exhibit also explores their inner circle, which included the works of Duchamp, Picasso, Le Corbusier, Calder and Miro. There is a sketch of Miller that Picasso drafted on what looks like a paper placemat; Le Corbusier also sketched a surreal, disjointed Miller (which is incredibly interesting to see, given his modern architecture background); a small wire weight lifter from Calder is on display, made from the remains of a Muselet. Wrapped within this great passion, the viewer is given a cultural sense of the world around them, and the incredible talent that they surrounded themselves with.
Featuring more than 115 photographs, various paintings and drawings, the May Ray | Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism exhibit is a memorable look at two talented artists and the unseverable creative connection they had with each other.
Until next week (and my next obsession)!
- Women Who Made History: Peggy Guggenheim
- My Latest Obsession: SFMOMA
- Edward Steichen Fashion Photography Exhibition
- We’ve Come A Long Way Baby: “Under the Empire of Crinoline” at the Musée Galliera, Paris
- Behind the Scenes with Tiffany’s Company: Paloma Picasso