America Is Hard to See

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works by artists in America Is Hard to See. Curators, scholars, and artists provide additional commentary.

723Man Ray, La Fortune, 1938


Man Ray (1890-1976), La Fortune, 1938. Oil on linen, 23 11/16 × 28 13/16 in. (60.2 × 73.2 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Simon Foundation, Inc. 72.129 © 2015 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

NARRATOR: Adam Weinberg is Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum.

ADAM WEINBERG: 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.