ADAMWEINBERG: In this painting by Man Ray, from 1938, a billiard table stretches toward the horizon. Above it float rainbow-colored clouds. The imagery defies simple explanation—this is a landscape of the mind, a product of the artist’s vivid imagination. The title, La Fortune, suggests luck. Games of luck and chance often appear in Man Ray’s work. Like other Surrealist artists, he regarded the creative process much like a game, requiring creativity, intelligence, and a playful approach to problem-solving.
Man Ray was an American artist who spent most of his life in Europe, where he was a leading figure in the European avant-garde. In 1940, just before the Nazi occupation, he left Paris. He arrived in the United States, part of an enormous influx of exiled artists, writers, and intellectuals. Their presence had a tremendous impact on American culture, and a deep and lasting effect on American art. Look around this gallery. You’ll see the work of American artists who have interpreted the lessons of European surrealism to arrive at their own unique form of expression.