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Man Ray, Self-Portrait as a Fashion Photographer, 1936, black-and-white photograph, 8 1⁄4 x 6". All works by Man Ray © 2010 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

Man Ray

Jewish Museum

Man Ray, Self-Portrait as a Fashion Photographer, 1936, black-and-white photograph, 8 1⁄4 x 6". All works by Man Ray © 2010 Man Ray Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

ONE COULD SAY of the Jewishness in Man Ray’s work what Theodor Adorno said of it in Gustav Mahler’s: “One can no more put one’s finger on this element than in any other work of art: It shrinks from identification yet to the whole remains indispensable.” Like the Austrian composer, Man Ray—born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia in 1890, to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents—lived in a society that, though in many ways progressive, could be intensely anti-Semitic. And like Mahler, Man Ray was Jewish and working-class at a moment when assimilation was not only a frequently practiced route of professional advancement but could also mark a political commitment to a socially enlightened universalism. In other words, both Man Ray’s Jewishness and his disavowal of it were historically specific and multivalent. Curator Mason Klein’s revisionist retrospective, “Alias Man Ray: The

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