“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, end of July, 1921, 12 rue de Boulainvilliers, Paris

From the day he arrived in Paris, just a week or so ago, American ex-patriate artist Man Ray, 30, has been introduced to the most interesting creative people in the city.

His friend from their days in New York City, French artist Marcel Duchamp, just turned 34, met him as promised at the Gare St. Lazare upon his arrival. The next day they went to the Dada Café to meet the French legendary lights of that movement:  writer Andre Breton, 25; poet Paul Eluard, also 25; and writer Philippe Soupault, 23, who offered Ray an exhibit at his bookstore this coming fall. Ray has been turning down offers of shows from dealers in Germany and Belgium because it is important to him that his first European show is in Paris.

Surrealists at an exhibit opening, with Philippe Soupault and Andre Breton on the ladder

Duchamp also arranged for a place for Ray to live. The Romanian-French Dada poet Tristan Tzara, 25, is off traveling for three months so Ray has taken over his studio here in Passy. Based on the sign in the window Ray was referring to this as the “Hotel Meuble,” until Duchamp explains that “meuble” means that the rooms are furnished.

12 rue de Boulainvilliers, Passy

Into this cramped space, Ray has managed to squeeze a bed and three large cameras. He develops his photos in the tiny closet.

Ray has already secured a commission to photograph the autumn line of French couturier Paul Poiret, 42, but Ray is actually more interested in sticking to portraiture.

At a party hosted by a wealthy visiting American couple, Ray struck up a conversation with an American writer he has heard a lot about—Gertrude Stein, 47. She has been living in Paris for almost 20 years now, and hosts salons with other ex-pats in her apartment on 27 rue de Fleurus which she shares with her partner, fellow San Franciscan Alice B. Toklas, 44.

Ray told Stein that he would like to photograph her and invited the two women to be the first to visit his little studio.

They are due any minute. As soon as their visit is over, Ray is going to meet up with a fascinating Frenchwoman he also met recently, Alice Prin, 19, known around town as “Kiki, the Queen of Montparnasse.”

Kiki of Montparnasse

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I covering 1920 is available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers Salons in Dublin and London before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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