Rooftops Ridgefield
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Man Ray, known primarily for his surrealist photographs, moved to Ridgefield, New Jersey, in the fall of 1912. In his memoir he described the town’s valley and blue hills as “a continual source of inspiration for landscape work.” The twenty-three-year-old artist was deeply influenced by the 1913 Armory Show, which presented the most recent developments in European art. The minimal, planar buildings depicted here owe an obvious debt to Cézanne, whose View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph, shown at the Armory, is similar in composition and style. The difference in texture and coloration in the horizontal registers of Rooftops Ridgefield, previously thought to be signs of an inferior restoration or poor condition, is now interpreted as evidence of Ray’s reworking of the painting after seeing the Armory Show. The young artist, who quickly assimilated what he observed, soon became a leader of the avant-garde.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Man Ray, American (Philadelphia, PA 1890 - 1976 Paris, France)
Rooftops Ridgefield
Work Type
Level 1, Room 1300, Modern and Contemporary Art, Early Modernism
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
44.45 x 54.61 cm (17 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.)
framed: 58.8 x 68.7 x 4.5 cm (23 1/8 x 27 1/16 x 1 3/4 in.)
Private Collection, by gift and sale; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2006.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Anonymous gift in memory of Elaine Siegler Taswell and gift of Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, Class of 1907, by exchange
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
Publication History

Curtis Carter and Francis M. Naumann, Man Ray in America, exh. cat., Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1989), p. 26, fig. 5

Francis M. Naumann, Man Ray in America: Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, and Photographs from the New York/Ridgefield (1912-21) and Hollywood (1940-50) Years, exh. cat., Francis Naumann Fine Art (New York, New York, 2001), p. 29, fig. 11

Francis M. Naumann, Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ, 2003), p. 55, fig. 67

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2006-7 (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 20, ill.

Exhibition History

32Q: 1300 Early Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

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