Man Ray, the surrealist artist that rose to prominence in the 1920’s, worked in nearly every medium imaginable. He did everything from painting a pair of disembodied lips (Observatory Time The Lovers,1936) to creating a film where a women’s eyeball was sliced open (Un Chien De Andalou, 1929). One notable area of Man Ray’s vast catalog of work is his photography.
“I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions, ” Man Ray once said, referring to his surreal aesthetic. To create that surreal effect. He often used techniques like double exposure, combination printing and cropping to create his photographs. However,Man Ray’s favorite technique was solarization. Solarization involves exposing a photograph to white light during the development process. The result is a photograph that is extremely overexposed. Solarization was a known phenomenon in photography before Man Ray used it, but it was considered a mistake rather than a methodology. Man Ray is often considered the first photographer to intentionally use solarization for artistic purposes.
Man Ray also created a new type of image called a “Rayogramme” or “Rayograph”. The creation of these images involved photographic paper but did not involve a camera.Photographic paper would have object laid directly on it and be exposed to light. Then, the image would be developed. As a result, a silhouette of the object would appear on the paper.
Photography was Man Ray’s most successful artistic venture. He even did commercial work for major magazines including Harper’s Bazaar.
- “Man Ray: Prophet of The Avant-Garde” from PBS.org
- “How Man Ray Revolutionized Photography” from Bright Hub
- “Photography and Surrealism” from The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
- The Sabatier Effect aka Solarization
- The Man Ray Collection from The Metropolitan Art Museum
By Grace Hetfield