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 Man Ray

/Works and biography

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Silhouette, 1916
India ink, charcoal (and gouache?)
on board, 51.6 x 64.1 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 68
© Man Ray Trust, by SIAE 2008


In 1915 Man Ray adopted a mechanistic, graphic, flattened idiom like that developed by Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp during the same period. This drawing is preparatory to his most successful painting in this style, The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows of 1916 (Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York), the subject of which was inspired by a vaudeville dancer. Man Ray’s interest in frozen sequential movement may derive from the experiments in photography he initiated about this time. The particularized features of the figures in this drawing are eliminated to produce two-dimensional patterned forms that are silhouetted against black oval shadows. The dancer is accompanied not only by her shadow but also by music, concisely indicated by the voluted head of an instrument at the lower right of the support, the strings across the bottom, and the music stand at left. The position of her feet on the strings, which may double as a stave, may be meant to convey a specific sequence of notes, as if the dancer were indeed accompanying herself musically.

credits: Hangar Design Group