November 26, 2009


Vasily Kandinsky Composition #8 1923

Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky) moved from Greenwich Village, New York, to Paris, France, on July 14, 1921, to meet up with his friend Marcel Duchamp.  It was French Independence Day.  Ray fell right in with the Dadaists.   He made Rayographs (his patented camera-less photography) with Tzara, pioneered film-making techniques with Duchamp and took portraits of Jean Cocteau and his famous or soon-to-be famous friends.   And Ray got laid a lot.  He speaks eloquently of this in his biography Self-Portrait (1963).   

GOD by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven 1918

Ernest Hemingway’s Parisian romances and sexual sabotages are well documented, most notably by him in his memoir A Moveable Feast (1964).  But he ain’t got nothin’ on Man Ray.  Charming, handsome, self-assured and inventive, Ray managed to capture nudity in a modern way, and managed to get beautiful women naked a lot.   While Hemingway was reassuring Scott Fitzgerald about his penis adequacy over lunch at Michaud’s, Ray and Duchamp in Ray’s Campagne-Premiere studio filming the Dada artist Baroness Elsa von Feytag-Loringhoven shaving her pubic hair.  There is something to be said about French independence. 

 I’m told by my salon professional friend that all the young girls today are wearing that Baroness look, later popularized by the Brazilian J. sisters in New York.  Following surgery for cancer at age 20, I kept the Baroness’ style for many years.  The man I married was the only man who didn’t seem to like it.  I made a lot of changes for him.   Unlike the Baroness, an artistic innovator whose found object assemblages pre-date Rauschenberg by fifty years, who did exactly as she pleased.  Some would argue that she sought attention through her sexuality, but none would argue that her wardrobe assemblages were less than sexy.  Her crotch wasn’t the only thing she shaved and, before she moved to Paris, she could be seen sorting through garbage in the East Village with her bald head painted green, wearing striped tights with men’s boots and spoons dangling from her exposed breasts.  In 1909, mind you.  Pre-dating Punk by 65 years.

Back in 1922 Paris, Sylvia Beach was publishing Joyce’s Ulysses and Jungian archetypes were being discussed in the cafes.   Carl Jung’s ideas about the shadow self revealed themselves through the poetry of Ezra Pound:



The apparition of these faces in the crowd;  

Petals on a wet, black bough.  

Erik Satie

SUGGESTED READING:  Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach (1980)