Man Ray at Montparnasse Cemetery

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Staying in Montparnasse in Paris a couple of weeks ago I made a last minute dash down the road to the Montparnasse Cemetery.

Sartre Beauvour 271

◄ I had a quick glance at the grave of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.


Then I stopped by Serge Gainsbourg’s grave and left some used Métro tickets, as you’re supposed to in memory of his record Le Poinçonneur des Lilas about a Métro ticket checker. Today the tickets are checked automatically by a machine. ▼

Serge Gainsbourg 542And I failed to find the grave of car maker Andre Citroën, time was running short.

Man Ray 542▲ But what I mainly wanted to find was the memorial to photographer Man Ray. A couple of weeks earlier I’d caught an exhibit on Man Ray’s portrait work at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The exhibit has closed now, I think it’s moving on to the Pushkin in Moscow. Man Ray started out as an artist in the US, had a productive spell in New York, shifted to Paris in the late 1920 and through the 1930s, where his work is linked with the surrealists and the Dada movement, went back to Hollywood during the war through the 1940s before shifting back to Paris again for the rest of his life.

One of the intriguing Man Ray connections is to Lee Miller who was a Vogue model, then model, lover and muse to Man Ray before becoming, of all things, a Vogue war photographer. When I visited the Documenta art show at Kassel in Germany last year there was an interesting small collection of photographs of Lee Miller in Adolf Hitler’s apartment in Munich. They were taken on 30 April 1945, the day Hitler committed suicide in Berlin. The day before she moved to the other side of the lens and posed bathing in Hitler’s Munich bathtub she had been photographing at Dachau concentration camp. An extraordinary woman.