Ruby Richards (Primary Title)

Man Ray, American, 1890 - 1976 (Artist)

ca. 1952
Gelatin gelatin print
Mount: 11 3/4 × 9 1/2 in. (29.85 × 24.13 cm)
Sheet: 9 1/8 × 6 11/16 in. (23.18 × 16.99 cm)

Ruby Richards (1917–1997) began her career as a chorus girl at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club in New York. Wearing long feathered gowns and high-heeled shoes, she danced to the jazz music of Jimmie Lunceford and his orchestra, the club’s house band. In 1938, she moved to Paris to replace Josephine Baker, who had recently retired from the Folies Bergère after marrying a wealthy French businessman. Richards admired Baker, “but I don’t try to imitate her,” she explained to Ebony magazine in 1953. “I think everybody should be original.” Richards’s performances at the Folies Bergère featured elaborate costumes, including the headdress seen in this portrait. Man Ray appears to have caught her between acts, wrapped in a silk robe encrusted with sequins.

Signed in graphite below image lower right: "Man Ray".
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, by exchange
Man Ray: The Paris Years, VMFA, October 30, 2021 – February 21, 2022

Curator’s Talk | Introducing Ruby Richards

Dr. Michael Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, hosts a roundtable discussion with the family of Ruby Richards, who is featured in VMFA special exhibition Man Ray: The Paris Years. This video recording was made possible by The National Endowment for the Humanities.

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