Man Ray (American, 1890-1976), Knud Merrild, ca. 1940. Gelatin Silver Print, 11 x 9 in. Gift of D. Frederick Baker from the Baker/Pisano Collection, 2012.1.47
This portrait of Danish-American modernist artist Knud Merrild (1894-1954) fashions him as a particular female type—a white, middle-class, middle-aged American woman—while the pipe remains an ambiguous marker of masculinity. The “flux” painter Merrild created abstract cubist and surrealist works that not only mixed stylistic genres but also attempted to translate the idea of constant change into pictorial painting. In keeping with the artist’s own stylistic concerns, this image presents gender as unstable and fluid, mixing masculine and feminine styles and gestures to convey a process rather than a conclusive picture.