In freewheeling 1920s Paris, Kiki de Montparnasse captivated as a nightclub performer, sold out gallery showings of her paintings, starred in Surrealist films, and shared drinks and ideas with the likes of Jean Cocteau and Marcel Duchamp. Her best-selling memoir–featuring an introduction by Ernest Hemingway–made front-page news in France and was immediately banned in America. All before she turned thirty.
Kiki was once the symbol of bohemian Paris. But if she is remembered today, it is only for posing for several now-celebrated male artists, including Amedeo Modigliani and Alexander Calder, and especially photographer Man Ray. Why has Man Ray’s legacy endured while Kiki has become a footnote?
Kiki and Man Ray met in 1921 during a chance encounter at a café. What followed was an explosive decade-long connection, both professional and romantic, during which the couple grew and experimented as artists, competed for fame, and created many of the shocking images that cemented Man Ray’s reputation as one of the great artists of the modern era. The works they made together, including the Surrealist icons Le Violon d’Ingres and Noire et blanche, now set records at auction.
Charting their volatile relationship, award-winning historian Mark Braude illuminates for the first time Kiki’s seminal influence not only on Man Ray’s art, but on the culture of 1920s Paris and beyond. As provocative and magnetically irresistible as Kiki herself, Kiki Man Ray is the story of an exceptional life that will challenge ideas about artists and muses–and the lines separating the two.