In Paris with Kiki, Dada

By Walters, Colin | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 14, 2001 | Go to article overview

In Paris with Kiki, Dada


Walters, Colin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Colin Walters

Some generations have the luck to live through seminal chapters in the life of literature, music and the visual arts, and others don't. Recent decades have not been seminal years and such periods, dating back to the artistic achievements of Periclean Athens in the runup to the Peloponnesian War, often have coincided with political turmoil. So it was with Paris between the two world wars, a time of what Herbert Lottman calls "ferment" in the arts.

One Paris neighborhood without boundaries, Montparnasse, always has been associated with those years, as it earlier was with the Impressionist painters. It was where, in the 1920s and '30s, residents and visitors alike, many of them American, frolicked in a combination of modernism and cosmopolitanism that the Islamic extremists with whom we now find ourselves in deadly contention would have loved to hate. Montparnasse then was a key station on the road that has brought us to where we are today.

The heterogeneous mix of artistic outlooks existing within the space of a few square miles - the Left Bank from north of the Luxembourg Garden down to the cheap rent district and the river - seemed to Mr. Lottman difficult to integrate in any whole until he remembered how Man Ray, the American painter and surpassing photographer, successfully navigated the different social classes and often warring artistic factions that included the artists of the Ecole de Paris, Dadaists and later Surrealists. This was, too, the Paris of Adrienne Monnier, Sylvia Beach, Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Alexander Calder were there. And Berenice Abbott came along to rescue for posterity the wonderful photographic prints of the elderly Eugene Atget.

Anybody who has ever looked at art photos or a fashion plate knows Man Ray's work whether they realize it or not, for he was that influential. Twenty-five years after his death, he is not known so much for his painting, collages, airbrush paintings which he called aerographs and other constructions as he might have wished. His photography, which started out as taking pictures of his paintings because he was not satisfied with other professionals' photos of them, came to dominate his working life, make him a famous man and, not incidentally, bring him first a modest living and later a handsome one. Everyone who was anyone in literature and the arts came to his Paris studio to have their portrait done, and the lavish illustrations in Mr. Lottman's book include an affecting portrait of James Joyce - snapped in profile just as he turned his hurting eyes away from the photographer's lamps.

Being American allowed Man Ray to stay out of the worst of the quarrels between groups, which could degenerate into fisticuffs and bloody noses - Andre Breton, the Surrealist "pope," once broke an adversary's arm, slamming down on it with his walking stick. The American was not generally expected to take sides, though he did on occasion sign a manifesto or associate himself with a partisan position. None of this kept him from maintaining close relations with all manner of people, from the American heiress and art collector Peggy Guggenheim to the initially waif-like model, Kiki (born Alice Prin in Bergundy), with whom he lived for some years.

The future Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitsky on Aug. 27, 1890, the first of four children of Russian Jewish immigrants. When he was seven, the family moved from Philadelphia to Brooklyn where his father worked as a tailor. The boy showed early signs of enthusiasm for the visual arts and, importantly, a resolve to choose his own career. As a young man in New York, he found his way to Alfred Stieglitz's studio, the famous 291, and began to make his way among artists and get his work increasingly taken seriously.

The 1913 Armory Show, in which Stieglitz introduced Americans to the modern art being produced across the Atlantic, was an important event for the aspiring artist. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

In Paris with Kiki, Dada
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.