Georgia et George Blaine, Hollywood (offert par l'artiste)
signed 'Man Ray' (lower right), photograph: gelatin silver print. Executed in the early 1940s, Juliet is photographed wearing a Native American Indian Navajo headdress.
La Collection Georgia et George Blaine - Tableaux et photographies de Man Ray
The Georgia and George Blaine Collection of works by Man Ray
The Hollywood Years
It may come as no surprise to learn that Man Ray spent over ten years of his life in Hollywood, from 1940 to 1951. Raised in Brooklyn by Russian parents, the Dada artist, who re-invented his own name, had ended up in Paris by 1921, deeply involved in Surrealism, but finding himself a refugee in the US during the Second World War. He chose to live in Hollywood and there that he found an idyllic and peaceful lifestyle, made many new friends and fell in love and married Juliet Browner, a dancer from New York who had studied with Martha Graham. It was a productive period for Man Ray with an intense return to painting and object-making after more than a decade of fashion and society photography.
A day after Man Ray's arrival in Los Angeles in late 1940 by car, sharing the driving with a family acquaintance, Harry Kantor, the two men arranged to meet two young ladies recently arrived from New York for an enjoyable evening out on the town. One was called Georgia Blaine and the other was her childhood friend Juliet Browner. In Man Ray's autobiography, he describes his first day in Hollywood:
"In the morning Harry phoned a girl whom he had known in New York, now staying with a friend, and told me we'd all have dinner together that evening... I explored the town. It was like some place in the South of France with its palm-bordered streets and low stucco dwellings. Somewhat more prim, less rambling, but the same radiant sunshine. Georgia (Kapatos), of Greek extraction, was a dress designer, originally from New York and familiar with the art world. Her guest, Juliet, with faun-like features and slanted eyes also had something exotic about her; she had moved in art circles, she knew about me and my painting. I was highly flattered. After dinner we went to a night club where some of the best jazz of the period was being played. We danced. Juliet was like a feather in my arms, she studied modern dancing with Martha Graham." (Self Portrait, 1988, p. 262)
Man Ray was smitten by Juliet and her strikingly modern beauty, she soon became his muse companion and wife. He photographed and painted her countless times, leaving behind a legacy of memorable images of her. Georgia, too, was photographed by Man Ray and the most memorable sitting was the series he made of her wearing a jewelled headdress (fig. 1). Throughout the 1940s, the Blaine's and Man Ray's became inseparable friends. The Blaine's acquired a collection of works by Man Ray, all from the Hollywood period and their prize possession was the highly important painting of 1941 Les Beaux Temps (lot 7), predicting and depicting the Second World War.
The collection had been housed at the same address in Hollywood, only a short distance from Man Ray's Vine Street apartment, until George's passing earlier this year. No work had ever been seen in public (with the exception of Les Beaux Temps in an exhibition in 1944) or barely documented previously; the charming house where George and Georgia lived in the hills of Hollywood, together with its artistic content became a time capsule.
Andrew Strauss (October 2010)
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