The National Portrait Gallery often seems to be most conservative of Britain's big art institutions. After all, the museum tends to select works on the significance of the sitter, rather than the artist. However, beneath Portland Stone and tight historical brief there lies plenty of beautiful, challenging works, and next year a few will get a dust down when the gallery puts on the first Man Ray exhibition dedicated to the surrealist photographer's portraits.
The American photographer and artist - born Emmanuel Radnitzky – produced paintings and sculptures, but also took commercial portraits and fashion shoots for Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper's Bazaar, and so, while much of his work was pioneering, it also featured plenty of famous faces. Portraits of Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley reside in the gallery's permanent collection, these will be joined by better-known portraits, such as this solarised picture of Lee Miller. Nevertheless, don't expect a celeb-fest.
As Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery explained: “Man Ray was a fascinating and complex figure, and one of the great artists of the 20th century. These are really important portraits we want people to have a chance to see. While some of the image will be extremely well known, others will not.” The exhibition opens February 7, and runs until the end of May 2013.
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