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Kiki Man Ray

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529300512

Price: £20

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‘Exuberantly entertaining’ NYT Book Review
‘Mark Braude’s writing and subject make this book irresistible, as was Kiki herself.’ Jim Jarmusch
‘A delightful, marvelously readable, meticulously-researched romp of a book, Kiki Man Ray brings to life not just the kaleidoscopically talented Kiki herself, but the endlessly fascinating Montparnasse milieu over which she reigned.’ Whitney Scharer, author of THE AGE OF LIGHT

Though many have never heard her name, Alice Prin – Kiki de Montparnasse – was the icon of 1920s Paris. She captivated as a ground-breaking nightclub performer, wrote a bestselling memoir, sold out exhibitions of her paintings, and shared drinks and ideas with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Peggy Guggenheim, and Marcel Duchamp. She also shepherded along the career of a then-unknown American photographer: Man Ray.

Following Kiki in the years between 1921 and 1929, when she lived and worked with Man Ray, Kiki Man Ray charts their complicated entanglement and reveals how Man Ray – always the unabashed careerist – went on to become one of the most famous photographers of the twentieth century, enjoying wealth and prestige, while Kiki’s legacy was lost.

But this isn’t a story of an overbearing male genius and his defeated muse. During the 1920s it was Kiki, not Man Ray, who was the brighter of the two rising stars and a powerful figure among the close-knit community of models, painters, writers and café wastrels who made their homes in gritty Montparnasse. Following the couple as they created art, struggled for power and competed for fame, Kiki Man Ray illuminates for the first time Kiki’s seminal influence on the culture of 1920s Paris, and challenges ideas about artists and muses, and the lines separating the two.

‘Kiki de Montparnasse was more than a muse she was a vivacious, independent woman whose talent and magnetism helped make Paris the center of the art world in the 1920s. In Mark Braude’s riveting cultural history, the Queen of Montparnasse rises again. This is a lively and compassionate tribute to the chanteuse, model, and portraitist who held center stage in her life, and who inspired some of the finest Surrealist art of the twentieth century.’ Heather Clark, author of Pulitzer Prize-finalist Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

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Reviews

[Kiki is] a vibrant force in a colorful world - and the heart of Braude's history. A rich, affectionate look at bohemian Paris.
Kirkus Reviews
Kiki Man Ray is a thoroughly researched and gracefully written life of the (until now) underestimated model, performer, painter, actress, and influencer known as Kiki de Montparnasse. Mark Braude's biography brings her out of the wings and sets her firmly center stage in this evocative portrait of artistic life in the Paris of the 1920s.
Carolyn Burke, author of FOURSOME and LEE MILLER
Finally, a detailed and entertaining account of Alice Prin, aka Kiki de Montparnasse, and her artistic and romantic relationship with Man Ray. Best known as a popular (and usually nude) artists' model, Kiki was a singer and performer, a painter, a writer, and the central female instigator for the avant-garde demimonde of Paris in the 1920s. Mark Braude's writing and subject make this book irresistible, as was Kiki herself.
Jim Jarmusch
Kiki de Montparnasse was more than a muse - she was a vivacious, independent woman whose talent and magnetism helped make Paris the center of the art world in the 1920s. In Mark Braude's riveting cultural history, the Queen of Montparnasse rises again. This is a lively and compassionate tribute to the chanteuse, model, and portraitist who held center stage in her life, and who inspired some of the finest Surrealist art of the twentieth century.
Heather Clark, author of Pulitzer Prize–finalist RED COMET: THE SHORT LIFE AND BLAZING ART OF SYLVIA PLATH
A delightful, marvelously readable, meticulously researched romp of a book, Kiki Man Ray brings to life not just the kaleidoscopically talented Kiki herself, but the endlessly fascinating Montparnasse milieu over which she reigned.
Whitney Scharer, author of THE AGE OF LIGHT
Man Ray captured 1920s Paris in his photographs, especially those of a singular muse: Kiki de Montparnasse, a hostess, a celebrity, a cabaret performer, a woman whose bawdy, heartfelt songs were the pulse of Paris. Mark Braude turns the tables - and the lens - and gives us a unique portrait: Man Ray from the perspective of that celebrated muse and her ephemeral art of performance.
Tilar J. Mazzeo, New York Times bestselling author of THE HOTEL ON PLACE VENDÔME: LIFE, DEATH, AND BETRAYAL AT THE HOTEL RITZ IN PARIS
Kiki de Montparnasse - model, muse, artist - is the sole realist in a room of Surrealists. Unafraid of contradiction, she lived the fast life in the stillness of a pose, the intimacy of a public dream. Beautifully written, with a light touch and a wise eye, Mark Braude's Kiki Man Ray arranges the elements of Kiki's life, letting radiant patterns emerge.
Alexander Nemerov, author of FIERCE POISE: HELEN FRANKENTHALER AND 1950S NEW YORK
Exquisitely crafted . . . [S]harp and succinct . . . Kiki Man Ray rescues its protagonist from the dustbin of history and advocates eloquently for the vitality and importance of the world she helped to forge.
HAMILTON CAIN, Wall Street Journal
If the only 'Kiki de Montparnasse' you are aware of is a lingerie brand, please check out this top-notch, highly readable nonfiction from cultural historian Mark Braude right now.
CAT AUER, A.V. Club
[An] affectionate biography . . . As irresistible as it is overdue.
Chicago Review of Books
A lively study of [Kiki de Montparnasse] who exemplified [a] cocktail of high spirits and a heedless self-destruction.
The Times
Mark Braude's exuberantly entertaining biography sets out to rebalance the much-told story of Left Bank Paris, in which Kiki - model, memoirist and muse - is usually cast as a bit player.
The New York Times
The frank, lively voice that comes through in Kiki's vignettes makes a cornerstone for the case, which Braude renews, that she was far more than Man Ray's party-girl companion - that it was, in fact, her vitality, her connectedness in artistic networks, and her intuitive understanding of his creative process that hoisted Man Ray on to the highway to fame.
The Telegraph