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Dog Party: Man Ray

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

McKnight Kauffer Musings

E. McKnight Kauffer photograph by A [Anton?] Karg, Walschee, Austria August 1934 (Collection Graham Twemlow)
A. Karg was possibly the son of the more famous Anton Karg (1835-1919) – mountaineer and photographer

In McKnight Kauffer Musings I will share my reflections on the people he spent time with, on his role in connecting with them, and what the connections may have led to. This research has not been revealed or published elsewhere and I hope that it may contribute a more nuanced history of the graphic arts that acknowledges the significance of context and connections


These musings respond in part to a remark by the designer Lucienne Roberts, who says that, in her design of the of the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum exhibition Underground Modernist: E McKnight Kauffer (on until 10 April 2022) she wanted to highlight McKnight Kauffer’s network of contacts and connections

Dog Party

It was Emily Bingham, whose superb book on her great-aunt, the wild and wonderful Henrietta Bingham (Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2015), who first alerted me to this curious photograph. Here we have McKnight Kauffer seated with a group, each of whom are holding a dog. It is surreal and oddly mundane at the same time. Many of the group look a little embarrassed, except the older man at the back – who seems quite relaxed. They are seated on a large corner bench, a settle, in a wood-pannelled interior reminiscent of an interior in a country pub at that time.

You may not be able to read the captions – in the bottom margin it reads:

“DOG PARTY: The Mound 1936”

Above it reads TED MCKNIGHT KAUFFER (in caps), Henrietta, Judge Bingham, Helen, Mrs Bell, Marion Dorn, and only just legible, Man Ray

Henrietta is Henrietta Bingham, Judge Bingham’s daughter. Helen was Henrietta’s close friend, Helen Jacobs, world number one tennis player at the time of the photograph. Judge Bingham was Robert Worth Bingham, a wealthy politician, judge, newspaper publisher and, from 1933-1937, the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Mrs Bell was the Binghams’ housemaid for a residence they had rented in the historic Buckinghamshire village of Long Crendon. Marion Dorn, is the renowned textile designer and McKnight Kauffer’s partner. Man Ray is indeed the Man Ray.

What was he doing there? What are the connections? My reading of this photograph is a combination of guesswork and certainties. Even before I had seen the photograph I was aware of McKnight Kauffer’s and Marion Dorn’s friendship with Henrietta Bingham through this press cutting from the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal (9 June 1944):

Henrietta Bingham, who, according to the blurb on Emily’s book was “raised like a princess in one of the most powerful families in the American South, Henrietta Bingham ripped through the Jazz Age like an F. Scott Fitzgerald character”. She frequently came over to London from the family home in Louisville, and for lengthy periods of time throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Although barely mentioned in Bloomsbury Set monographs she became an adored figure and muse to many writers and artists of the time.

One can surmise from the photo that Henrietta Bingham was also a close friend of McKnight Kauffer and Dorn. They, too, held parties in the 1930s at their swanky modernist apartment in Swan Court, Chelsea, and I can imagine Henrietta being invited, along with whichever partner, male or female, she was attached to at the time. The two terriers in the photo were Henrietta Bingham’s. One of the reasons Henrietta Bingham chose Long Crendon as a base was so she could ride out with the Bicester Hunt, and the farmhouse she had rented enabled her to stable her foxhunters. The dog McKnight Kauffer is clutching in his hands is his and Marion Dorn’s own dog – a cairn terrier named Timsy. I knew about Timsy from Sidney Garrad, McKnight Kauffer’s young studio assistant. I interviewed Sidney on a number of occasions. One of the stories he would tell was about his early morning duty of walking Timsy and then making sure his footprints did not show up on the white linoleum floor of the Swan Walk studio. McKnight Kauffer’s relationship with Carl Van Vechten, the American writer and photographer will probably be discussed in a future blog – but there is a record of Van Vechten receiving a photograph (by McKnight Kauffer) of Timsy, amusingly named 'Timsy Dorn MacKnight [sic] Kauffer' (see below).

“The Mound” – is the name of a series of timber-framed thatched cottages in the village of Long Crendon, made into one large house at the beginning of the twentieth century by Sir Laurence Gomme, historian, folklorist, and clerk to the London County Council. Gomme died in 1916 but I believe his son, Arnold Wycombe Gomme, owned The Mound at the time of the Dog Party photograph. The present owner of the property told me that the panelling still remains.

And what of Man Ray, looking a little bemused in the foreground? Why was he there? McKnight Kauffer knew Man Ray well from his frequent visits to Paris and in 1934 he arranged for Man Ray to have an exhibition in Lund Humphries’ gallery, and they collaborated on creating avant-garde advertising material for Charnaux, a specialised latex corset and underwear manufacturer.

Man Ray exhibition at the publishing house of Lund Humphries, 12 Bedford Square The exhibition ran from 28 November – 8 December 1934. The floor covering was designed by Marion Dorn

In December 1935 McKnight Kauffer and Eric Gregory, joint managing director of Lund Humpries, arranged for Man Ray to occupy the company’s photographic studio. A card designed by McKnight Kauffer read: MAN RAY will be at 12 Bedford Square from December 5th – December 15th

1935. Intelligent photography by a brilliant artist. Commissions are invited for portraits and all other subjects

I can only guess that, as the Dog Party photograph is dated 1936, Man Ray stayed on in London after his Lund Humphries residency. He is sitting, without dog, in the foreground. Although difficult to see I think he is holding an extension lead to the shutter of the camera, or perhaps he has set a timer device, so is this, after all, a photograph by the brilliant artist himself?


The Dog Party photograph was reproduced in the introductory pages of E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising, published by Rizzoli Electa in October 2020, which would have coincided with the opening of New York’s Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum “largest-ever exhibition of works by graphic design pioneer E. McKnight Kauffer” but due to Covid restrictions the exhibition opening was delayed - it finally opened on a 10 September 2021 and will run until 10 April 2022. I noticed recently that exhibition curators Caitlin Condell and Emily M. Orr had used the photograph again in a post on the Hyperallergic blog (“A forum for serious, playful, and radical thinking about art in the world today”) also posted

in October 2020.


Hi! Thank you for this beautiful post. Do you know who took the picture of the interior of the Man Ray exposition? Where did you find it? I'm asking for a research project I'm working on. Many thanks. Best, Francesca


Mary Casserley
Mary Casserley
Oct 17, 2021

Fascinating sleuthing. Loving the dog party back-stories.

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