Gertrude Stein

Man Ray (1890–1976)
Gelatin silver print, 1927
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© 2010 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS)
New York / ADAGP, Paris

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In January 1926, when Stein was fifty-two years old, she cut off the long hair she had worn for decades and adopted a distinctive “Julius Caesar” bob, along with a more masculine style of dress that publicly expressed her lesbian sexuality. Soon after, Man Ray asked Stein if he could update his publicity images of her. For the photo shoot, Stein slicked her short hair back over her ears and wore makeup and a dark dress with a scarf and pin; Man Ray played up her gender-bending, showing her as a man in a woman’s body—or conversely, a female in male drag. He minimized her body and hands and lit her head and profile so that they read as solid and stony, in effect simulating the busts of ancient Roman rulers. When Man Ray asked Stein in 1930 to pay him for a recent sitting, they parted company. Money had never been part of their exchange.