Ted Wells living : simple

Man Ray: Surrealist Meets Architect

Oct. 29, 2006

Who contributes more to the public perception of a building, the architect or the photographer? For Harwell Hamilton Harris, a California architect in the 1930s and 40s, the photographer who helped make Harris’s buildings famous was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated Surrealists--Man Ray. Man Ray embraced the new ideas of art and culture, he was one of the leading spirits of DADA and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of these two influential movements. He had never photographed architecture when Harris commissioned him to photograph three of Harris' most interesting houses. Man Ray’s architectural photos were unlike anything Harris had ever seen--and Man Ray never photographed architecture again. We, who are interested in architecture and art, are the better for Man Ray’s short, but memorable side trip into architecture, when two great artists--one a mild-mannered modernist, and one a Dada Surrealist--met on sunny hillsides in Los Angeles and Berkeley and created works of art, in architecture and photography. For more information about Man Ray and his art, read Ingrid Schaffner's book, The Essential Man Ray (2003,The Wonderland Press, Harry. N. Abrams, publishers). To see Man Ray's work online, visit www.manraytrust.com. And see what's surreal at www.tedwells.com. Photograph of the Weston Havens House, Architect: Harwell Hamilton Harris; Photo by Man Ray, Copyright Man Ray Trust.

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