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Man Ray - valued more in death than in life


Buying a Man Ray print
Jules Engel Film-maker
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I, I bought a Man Ray in… way before the... I was in New York with my friends and I always went to galleries, you know? And sure enough, I came out of the apartment on 83rd, make a left and there's a street - I don't know the name. Anyway, there was a terrific thing on the wall and I looked at it and, my God, it's a beautiful Man Ray print! It's a print, a litho. And I didn't want to let on because I had no idea if they are aware. At that time, this place had a lot of good stuff. It was a nothing of a place but they had terrific stuff. So I spotted this Man Ray on the wall. Now how do I going to get to it without giving this guy up? [Sic] So I asked, 'Oh yeah, what is this thing?' You know, like that? 'How much is that'? 'Eight hundred'. But I must have been mistaken because I expected him to say 25,000. But, you see, nobody saw this Man Ray. So I said, 'I think I'd like to take this'. So he takes the damn thing off the wall, I tell you, how long it's been there, and the New Yorkers never spotted. But when he took it off the wall, the frame fell apart. And behind the picture there's a much lighter wall than there's around. So it gives you some idea how long that painting's been on the wall and this is smart New York and nobody spots the goddamn thing. It's a Man Ray, you know, a beautiful print. Anyway, he takes it off the wall and it comes apart. I was afraid that they're going to say, 'Why don't I fix that for you?' No, all I wanted to do... I gave the check and get the hell out of that place before he knows what he's got, you know? Because my friends were just living around the corner and I stayed with them. So anyway, that's a Man Ray and I still have it.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: New York, Man Ray

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008