Man Ray

National Museum of American Art; Middendorf Gallery

The National Museum of American Art’s traveling exhibition “Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray” is a major retrospective. Along with the photographs shown concurrently at the Middendorf Gallery (over 70 vintage portraits from 1921–39), it presents a unique and long-overdue occasion to reassess Man Ray’s extremely diverse body of work. Arranged chronologically, “Perpetual Motif” is comprised of 268 works that span Man Ray’s career from 1912 to 1976, the year of his death. With few exceptions, the exhibition provides a logical progression through Cubism to Dada and Surrealism, establishing links with these movements and revealing recurring motifs in the artist’s work. This installation highlighted selected sculptures, such as the 1920 Obstruction, a lost coathanger work remade in 1961, and offered vistas onto works in adjacent spaces. Even the theater, an open area in the exhibition proper,

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