The creative relationship between Man Ray and Lee Miller spawned some of the most iconic pieces of the surrealist movement, and arguably, of the twentieth century, in the visual arts.

Man Ray
Man Ray (1890–1976). A l’heure de l’observatoire—les amoureux (Observatory Time—The Lovers), c. 1931; color photograph, 1964, after the original oil painting. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. © 2011 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Photo © The Israel Museum by Avshalom Avital

 

For the first time ever, the fruitful intermingling of ideas between these two figures, and a sample of the laudable output it engendered–115 photographs, paintings, drawings and manuscripts–will be on display at the Legion of Honor.

Ray and Miller lived together from 1929 to 1932 meeting in 1929 when Miller came to Paris seeking to apprentice with Ray. The two eventually became lovers and collaborators in pushing the boundaries of canonical photography.

Together, they perfected the technique of solarisation, defined as the reversal of tones in a negative or a print–the imaginative technique makes dark areas appear partially white or grey and white areas appear darker than they normally would be.

The exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, dispels the notion that Miller was Ray’s muse–even though she often served as his model in photos and for sculptures–insisting on their equal contribution to one another’s work.

Seeking her own artistic identity, Miller eventually moved to New York and established a commercial photography studio.

Lee Miller
David E. Scherman (1916-97), Lee Miller in Hitler’s bath, Munich, 1945, © 2007 Lee Miller Archives. All rights reserved.

 

At the outbreak of the second world war, Miller was living in London and went on to become a photojournalist and war correspondent for Condé Nast documenting the atrocities committed and the horrific consequences of war with a surrealist’s sensibility.

Also included alongside works by Ray and Miller are paintings by contemporaries and friends Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Roland Penrose, Dora Maar and a small sculpture by Alexander Calder.

Marcel Duchamp
Marcel Duchamp, Self-Portrait in Profile, from Sur Marcel Duchamp/Eau et gaz à tous les étages by Robert Lebel (Paris: Editions Trianon, 1959). Torn-paper collage. Museum Purchase, Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated books, Reva and David Logan Fund. 2001.19.3

 

As a complement to the Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism exhibition, seven works by Marcel Duchamp, a longtime friend of Ray and fellow surrealist, will be displayed in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books.

See Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism starting July 14 at the Legion of Honor and continuing through October 14, 2012.  Marcel Duchamp: The Book and the Box also opens on July 14 but continues through November 11, 2012.