When people are asked which historical figures they would like to meet, answers like Jesus and Mother Theresa come up. For me, it is Man Ray. I made a pilgrimage to photograph his grave at the Cimetiere de Montparnasse this summer, and read his epitaph: "Unconcerned but not indifferent." He is buried with Juliet Browner, whom he met in Los Angeles when he was 50 and she was 29. Of Romanian descent, she was strikingly beautiful in an unconventional way and besides posing for many photographs she would just hang around so that Man Ray could be inspired by her "presence".
|Juliet Browner, by Man Ray|
But, I’ve always been more interested in one of his previous lovers, Lee Miller. At the age of 22, she traveled from the US to learn photography from Man Ray in Paris. Man was nearly 40 and already had a formidable reputation as a Surrealist, painter and photographer. When she landed on his doorstep, he initially refused her but she left with him for Biarritz the next day. She eventually rivaled him as an artist and became a brilliant photographer in her own right. The touching aspect of their relationship is that although they had a devastating break up that drove Man to madness, they eventually reconciled. Both married other people and when Lee Miller later succumbed to depression and alcoholism, Man sent handmade gifts to her in the US to help her feel better. This relationship continued until the end of their lives. Below is a photo I found of them on this link (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/20/139766533/much-more-than-a-muse-lee-miller-and-man-ray) just before Man Ray died at age 85. Their love is palpable.
|Interesting portrait of Lee and Man by William Seabrook|
|Man Ray and Lee Miller in 1975|