Paris tomb of US artist Man Ray desecrated

The gravestone appears to have been wrenched off the tomb of US artist Man Ray in Montparnasse cemetery (AFP Photo/Lionel BONAVENTURE) (AFP)

Paris (AFP) - A man was arrested Wednesday in connection with the apparent desecration of surrealist artist Man Ray's tomb in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris, a municipal official said.

An AFP photographer noticed Wednesday that the gravestone appeared to have been wrenched off Ray's tomb, and a portrait of the American artist and his wife smashed.

Man Ray -- who has been called the "first Jewish avant-garde artist" -- spent most of his life in the French capital, and was a major figure in the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as a huge influence on fashion photography.

He died in Paris in 1976 and is buried not far from Nobel prize-winning Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.

A gravestone bearing the inscription: "Unconcerned but not indifferent", had been knocked over, as was a headstone added after the death of Ray's wife, the dancer Juliet Browner, in 1991, on which was inscribed: "Together again".

No other tombs nearby had been damaged.

The deputy security head for the Paris district where the cemetery is located said a man was taken into custody on suspicion of being behind the damage after being observed near the grave on Wednesday.

The cemetery also contains the remains of other artistic greats such as writers Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles Baudelaire and Marguerite Duras.

Man Ray is best known for "Ingre's Violin", a nude photomontage in which he transformed the naked back of his lover and muse, singer Kiki de Montparnasse, into a violin.

As well as being a visual gag, "Ingre's Violin" is a pun, the idiom meaning "hobby" in French.

The great 19th-century French painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was passionate about the instrument although he never scaled the same heights with it as he did with his paintbrush.

Born Emmanuel Rudzitsky in Philadelphia in 1890, Man Ray was a star of Paris' frenetic artistic scene between the two world wars alongside Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Marcel Duchamps.

He fled the Nazis when they invaded France during World War II but returned from California in 1951 and spent the rest of his days in Paris.