Man Ray, Erotique Voilée, 1933

By chance, coincidence, necessity, and good fortune, Man Ray was a photographer when he arrived in Paris—or at least, he knew how to take photographs. This role provided him with a back door or service entrance for joining a group of clever, carefree intellectuals, the way a back staircase provides access to a grand mansion. He aimed to use his camera like a typewriter*, and so his photography enabled him to shine among those who really knew how to use typewriters.

*Letter from Man Ray to Katherine Dreier, February 20, 1921

Michel Frizot, “How I Became Man Ray: The Piecework Photographer” in Man Ray: Photography and Its Double (1998)