Who contributes more to the public perception of a building, the
architect or the photographer? For Harwell Hamilton Harris, a
California architect in the 1930s and 40s, the photographer who
helped make Harris’s buildings famous was one of the 20th century’s
most celebrated Surrealists--Man Ray. Man Ray embraced the new
ideas of art and culture, he was one of the leading spirits of DADA
and Surrealism and the only American artist to play a prominent
role in the launching of these two influential movements. He had
never photographed architecture when Harris commissioned him to
photograph three of Harris' most interesting houses. Man Ray’s
architectural photos were unlike anything Harris had ever seen--and
Man Ray never photographed architecture again. We, who are
interested in architecture and art, are the better for Man Ray’s
short, but memorable side trip into architecture, when two great
artists--one a mild-mannered modernist, and one a Dada
Surrealist--met on sunny hillsides in Los Angeles and Berkeley and
created works of art, in architecture and photography. For more
information about Man Ray and his art, read Ingrid Schaffner's
book, The Essential Man Ray (2003,The Wonderland Press, Harry. N.
Abrams, publishers). To see Man Ray's work online, visit
www.manraytrust.com. And see what's surreal at www.tedwells.com.
Photograph of the Weston Havens House, Architect: Harwell Hamilton
Harris; Photo by Man Ray, Copyright Man Ray Trust.