March 28, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – A man has been arrested after the tomb of American-born surrealist artist Man Ray was desecrated in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, a city official said on Thursday.
Born into a family of Russian Jewish immigrants in 1890, Man Ray spent much of his career in the French capital and was close to dada and surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp in the 1920s and 1930s.
The man’s motives were unclear, a spokeswoman for Paris City Hall said, adding that early investigations indicated he was homeless and drunk when police arrested him on Tuesday as he was damaging another nearby tomb.
A headstone added to the tomb after Man Ray’s wife died was also knocked down.
Man Ray is best known for Ingres’s Violin, a nude print in which he transformed the naked back of his muse, singer Kiki de Montparnasse, into a violin.
Man Ray, who was named Emmanuel Radnitzky at birth, fled to the United States from France during World War Two. He returned to Paris in the early 1950s where he lived until his death in 1976.
France has seen a spate of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and memorials amid concern about rising anti-Semitism in France, home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, although there was no indication that this incident was linked to anti-Semitism.
Montparnasse Cemetery contains the graves of other well known people, including philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre, and writers Simone de Beauvoir and Charles Baudelaire.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Susan Fenton)