Forced to leave France for the United States in 1940, Man Ray settled in Hollywood, taking a studio at 1245 Vine Street. Fearing that his work would be lost in occupied France, he began to paint new versions of certain recent compositions, using the black-and-white photographs he brought with him as a guide. These were not mere replicas: "Why make simple copies simply, which would be drudgery? Within the general outlines and composition, I began to improvise freely. Other painters had made many variations of the one subject – I'd do something entirely different each time to maintain my interest and enthusiasm." (Man Ray, Self Portrait, Boston and London, 1988, p. 264)
Vibrant in colours and imagination, and full of enigmas for the viewer to decipher, Le Beau Temps (Fair Weather) and Les Beaux Temps (Good Times) represent powerful statements by Man Ray, evocations of the atrocities of the war. Summoning all his energy and summarising many of his current preoccupations, Man Ray assembled dream-inspired motifs, reflecting his own situation, current events and the general mood of a world at war. Man Ray referred to the 1939 version in his autobiography: "The painting was less prophetic than it was a record of the past, like a barometer with a chart in which one can read what has gone before, deducing the tendency for the future" (Man Ray, op. cit., p. 242).
While the right sides of the painted versions presented pre-war life, the left side, as in the present composition, separated from the right by a panelled door, cleverly depicts a very different place, one of destruction and blood, the consequence of war. The harlequin-like figure composed of geometrical forms and a head presented as a lantern of light is arguably Man Ray himself, since André Breton referred to him as "l'Homme à la tête de lanterne magique" (preface to La Photographie n'est pas l'art, 1937). Ablaze with the orange and red of fire, the figure stands in a barren landscape, blackened with ashes, a trident at each side and before a broken wall, a reference to the destruction wreaked by the war. By 1941, with the war in full swing, blood pours from the keyhole.
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