Igor Stravinsky (Primary Title)
This photograph of the famous Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) is one of the most unorthodox portraits that Man Ray ever made. By the time Stravinsky sat for this portrait, he was widely considered the most innovative and influential composer of his generation, having achieved international fame for his groundbreaking musical scores for three ballets performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris: The Firebird in 1910, Petrushka in 1911, and The Rite of Spring in 1913. A decade later, Man Ray positioned the composer in front of a large curtain and seated on a wicker armchair with one leg casually crossed over the other. Stravinsky is shown in profile and looking upward as if a sudden sound had caught his attention. The composer’s act of swift and unexpected movement is also evident in his right hand, which dissolves into a partial blur. Stravinsky and Man Ray shared many of the same friends and colleagues, including Jean Cocteau and Pablo Picasso, which may explain the Russian composer’s decision to sit for this portrait with the American expatriate photographer.
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