He Knew Everyone: Man Ray Portraits



The recently published Man Ray Portraits: Paris-Hollywood-Paris, from the Man Ray Archives of the Centre Pompidou, presents 500 photographs from the photographer who knew everyone. The tome includes photographs of Marcel Duchamp, Giorgio de Chirico, Alexander Calder, Robert Desnos, Hilda Doolittle, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Max Jacob, James Joyce, Mina Loy, Raymond Queneau, Kurt Schwitters, Paul Valery, Dorothea Tanning, and on and on from members of the avant-garde, to ex-pats, to fashion and cinema stars. The photographs are a veritable who's who of artistic movements in or passing through Paris in the first half of the 2oth Century and document a time of seriousness (note the portrait of Ezra Pound) and a time of creative experiments (note the portrait of André Breton and his poem "Sunflower," written in 1923, a year before his Man Ray portrait.).


Ezra Pound, 1923. Copyright © Estate of Man Ray / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel.


André Breton, 1924. Copyright © Estate of Man Ray / courtesy Schirmer/Mosel.

 

Sunflower

André Breton
translated by Mark Polizzotti

 

The traveler who crossed Les Halles at summer's end   
Walked on tiptoe
Despair rolled its great handsome lilies across the sky   
And in her handbag was my dream that flask of salts   
That only God's godmother had breathed
Torpors unfurled like mist
At the Chien qui Fume
Where pro and con had just entered
They could hardly see the young woman and then only
     at an angle   
Was I dealing with the ambassadress of saltpeter   
Or with the white curve on black background we call thought The Innocents' Ball was in full swing
The Chinese lanterns slowly caught fire in chestnut trees   
The shadowless lady knelt on the Pont-au-Change   
On Rue Gît-le-Coeur the stamps had changed   
The night's promises had been kept at last
The carrier pigeons and emergency kisses
Merged with the beautiful stranger's breasts
Jutting beneath the crepe of perfect meanings   
A farm prospered in the heart of Paris
And its windows looked out on the Milky Way   
But no one lived there yet because of the guests
Guests who are known to be more faithful than ghosts   
Some like that woman appear to be swimming   
And a bit of their substance becomes part of love   
She internalizes them
I am the plaything of no sensory power
And yet the cricket who sang in hair of ash   
One evening near the statue of Etienne Marcel   
Threw me a knowing glance
Andre Breton it said pass

Translation reprinted with the permission of Mark Polizzotti. All Rights Reserved.



Categories: Portraits of Poets
 

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