Published: October 16, 2007
The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has acquired 171 photographs consisting of 136 individual prints, a book and a portfolio, many of which represent the height of Surrealism photographic movement of the first half of the Twentieth Century. The addition of this collection significantly strengthens CMA’s holdings of European photography between World War I and World War II, increasing by 55 the number of photographers new to the collection.
The private collection of rare, mostly European photographs primarily from the 1920s through the 1940s was acquired from David Raymond, an avid art collector and independent filmmaker and producer from New York City. Raymond, originally an art dealer in San Francisco, began his interest in fine art photography in 1992. He has since devoted much of his time to collecting art for himself and became passionate about the photographs of Dora Maar and the Surrealism movement.
He was named one of the top 100 private art collectors in the world in 2005 by Art & Antiques and had the largest private holdings of Maar photographs. Raymond’s collection was obtained through his agent, the private photography dealer Charles Isaacs of New York City.
“I have tried my best to stay focused on works that challenge the way I see the world, which is why I have been so interested in Surrealism and photography from between the wars,” Raymond said. “I enjoy artwork that challenges my views and dares to challenge my perceptions. I want to be able to look at an image and have it reveal something I might have been unaware of until that image came into my life. Artists like Man Ray, whose works date back to 1920s, can still challenge our perception of time and space 80 years later. The CMA truly understands and appreciates the uniqueness of this collection and the fact that these photographs are artifacts of the Twentieth Century.
“By selling this collection of which I have spent much time and detail in assembling to the CMA, I know the works will be well cared for and present a wonderful opportunity for many to see and study at one of the finest art institutions in the world.”
The works of photography he sold to CMA are distinguished by their quality, breadth and rarity of subject matter and number of represented artists. A majority of the 171 images of the collection represent the influence of Surrealism, a cultural movement that emerged to the forefront after World War I, emphasizing a state of mind over a specific style.
Surrealism was triggered by a European literary movement based on psychoanalytic thinking, and popularized Freudian notions about sex, dreams, the unconscious and free association.
Photography provided an outlet for Surrealist artists to illustrate the world in two conflicting points of view, one of fact and one of the mind, through the use of contorted poses, unique points of view and special effects.
Photographers of the first half of the Twentieth Century used tools to interpret and manipulate images. Through darkroom techniques such as photograms, solarization, collage, montage and multiple exposures, photographers were able to revolutionize how they expressed and interpreted their view of the world through the camera lens. Through the addition of this collection, CMA boosts its holdings of Surrealist imagery and stands to become a focal point of research for scholars researching Surrealist photography, particularly the work of George Hugnet, Dora Maar and Roger Parry.
The collection contains 23 images by Maar, the largest number of prints by her held in private hands. Maar, a French photographer and painter, is known for her work of infusing the real with the bizarre. The addition of the Maar photographs makes CMA the largest museum holder of her work in the United States.
Other notable photographers and works in the collection include: “Mes d’Ambulations m’Amenen” (George Hugnet), “Gypsy Palmist” (Dora Maar), “Mannequin” El Lissitzky), “Carousel Horse” (Roger Parry), “Two Acrobats” (Brassaï), “La Boule de Verre” (Jacques-Henri Lartigue), “Lee Miller” (Man Ray) and “Le Combat de Penthesiliées” (Raoul Ubac).
The Cleveland Museum of Art is at 11150 East Boulevard. For information, www.ClevelandArt.org or 888-262-0033.
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