Man Ray, a pioneering photographer and Jazz Age colleague of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, died in Paris more than three decades ago, but what’s left of his studio can still be found—in a car-repair shop on New York’s Long Island.
Beyond this shop’s no-frills showroom, which is lined with upholstered seat covers, sits the headquarters of the Man Ray Trust. The trust consists of 16 freezer-size vaults containing about 4,500 works from the artist’s estate. These archives include Dadaist and Surrealist photographs of the artist’s muse Kiki de Montparnasse, as well as props Man Ray used to make some of his experimental, camera-free images, called Rayographs. (One prop box is labeled “Slinky, Wrench, Razorblade, Bullet, Comb, Can Opener, Many Metal Pieces.”)
Kelly Crow on Lunch Break looks at the surreal selling of Man Ray: How a Long Island family with an auto-body shop wound up controlling the artist’s legacy.
Now, the collection is being privately shopped to museums, with a price tag of $20 million.
The story of how Man Ray’s art wound up in Long Island—and why it’s now being offered for sale—is nothing short of surreal. The artist’s late wife, Juliet, set up the original trust, but since her death everything has filtered down to her extended family, which owns the car-repair shop. Now, the family, which initially knew little about the art world, is ratcheting up its ambitions for the collection.
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