CLEVELAND—The Cleveland Museum of Art has vastly increased its holdings in Surrealist photography by acquiring 171 works from the collection of New York collector and independent film producer David Raymond for an undisclosed price.
The trove, which was amassed over the past decade, includes works by Brassaï, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, El Lissitzky, Man Ray, Herbert Matter, Roger Parry and others. Among the highlights are 23 images by Pablo Picasso’s lover Dora Maar.
“It’s really a terrific collection,’’ says Tom Hinton, curator of photography, “and just great for the museum.” He explains that the images show how photographers influenced by Surrealism used the medium to distort time and space, and to create the effect of dreamlike states by using unusual angles and photographic techniques.
The museum learned of the collection through New York photography dealer Charles Isaacs, who thought Cleveland might make a good home for it.
Among the acquired images is a Man Ray close-up of a female model posed upside down, with her long, blond hair tumbling onto the floor beneath her. A Lissitzky photogram depicts a mannequin with limbs arranged as though it were pushing against walls that are slowly pressing inward as if to crush it. The Maar photographs focus on blind musicians and peddlers.
Hinton says his first task is to catalogue the photographs. Then he plans to organize one or more exhibits around them. The images won’t be seen for at least a year or two, however, because the museum is mostly closed for a $258 million expansion and renovation designed by Rafael Viñoly.
The photography collection of the Cleveland museum consists of approximately 2,200 individual photographic prints and 2,700 gravure prints. Until now there has not been a strong Surrealist presence.