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 Man Ray

/Works and biography

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Untitled, 1923
Rayograph, gelatin-silver print, 28.8 x 23.5 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 69a
© Man Ray Trust, by SIAE 2008


At the time of these experiments with light, Man Ray was working late into the night in an improvised dark-room, developing the plates he had exposed during the day, and making contact prints on sheets of paper spread out under the glass negative on a table lit by an electric light bulb hanging from the ceiling. It was this primitive set up that made possible a startling new development in photography, when he inadvertently placed a few objects on a sensitized sheet under the light. To his surprise, an image grew before his eyes on the paper under the light, “not quite a simple silhouette of the objects, as in a straight photograph, but distorted and refracted by the glass more or less in contact with the paper standing and standing out against a black background, the part directly exposed to the light.” The excitement of his invention of the Rayograph, as Man Ray decided to call it, prompted him to declare these works as “pure Dada,” To this Man Ray added forty years later in an amplified portfolio of Rayographs: “Like the undisturbed ashes of an object consumed by flames, these images are oxidized residues, fixed by light and chemical elements, an experience, an adventure, not an experiment. They are the result of curiosity, inspiration, and these works do not pretend to convey any information.”

credits: Hangar Design Group