I am really curious what you are meaning by quality. The portraits of Picasso and Dali are plain Jane and the final landscape looks like it was an afterthought that could have been taken by literally anyone. Man Ray did some amazing work, like the tears image above, but like most artists he also did a lot of uninspired crap.
I am not super fond of Mortensen but saying his work wasn't quality means you have a lack of understanding of what quality means, or are you applying your opinion to the word?
Personally I don't fall for the hagiography of artists. Just because Adams was popular doesn't make him the greatest. Weston was a far more interesting photographer than vanilla Adams. Adams was a competent technician but I wouldn't even call him an artist. A better "Adams" could be made today because the medium has advanced. Try making a better Pepper #30 though.
Everything one says, is in some sense an opinion. That is implicit.
And by quality I primarily meant as in mindset/impression/ideology etc.
But quality as in bad/good applies too.
His portraits like those of Dali and Picasso are exactly not
basic bitch portraits.
There are subtleties of lighting, dress, pose, background and a hint of solarization that makes them arresting and worthy of the subject.
The very fact that Man Ray could shoot these two titans tells you much of what you need to know about him.
The forrest avenue is not something most people would see. The low viewpoint and the observation of the geometry is unique.
Sure, it’s been done to death today probably, but for 1930 is was unique.
When you deal with art to even a modest extent, you quickly realize that “the great man” theory really does apply here.
Sure, any artist will make a lot of crap and mediocre stuff. But that is almost a constant. So after the shock of discovering that barn of chaff, it really becomes a relatively uninteresting observation.
The big artists are often, far from always, but often, quite deserving of their reputation.
Art like science is a peer review process and the ultimate test is time.
Any kind of inflation will have the air let out and the true worth of the art becomes apparent after some decades.
Sure, Picasso for example was a great actor and storyteller, and had some great marketeers working for him.
But he was also an exceptionally great artist.
You realize that when you look at his contemporaries and also-rans of the first half of the century. Many of whom had the same chances and basic skill set.
Was luck involved? Sure! To a frighteningly large degree too.
But if you can’t put one foot in front of the other to walk, no amount of luck is going to help you.
Man Ray was a great artist. Mortensen was not.
Ansel was also a great artist.
Was he as great as he is made out to be by his protégés and proselytizers? That’s is probably debatable. But he did do a solid body of work, that anyone with the inclination can look up by whatever means and medium they want.
Differences of amount and kind of talent exist.
Show us some photos or hold your peace.