The photo above, a 1931 self portrait by Man Ray, is one of my absolute favorites. I first saw it in Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine during the 1980s, and found the image so irresistible that I cut it out of the magazine and framed it. I still have it, bright blue frame and all.
Man Ray (1890 – 1976) was a mostly expatriate American artist who spent most of his adult life in France. He was associated with the Dada and Surrealist movements, and collaborated with well known artists and performers including Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Lee Miller, and Alice Prin (Kiki de Montparnasse).
Man Ray was known for his portrait and fashion photography, as well as abstract and surreal works. Two techniques that were important in his work were his ‘Rayographs,’ (otherwise known as photograms, or images created using photographic materials but no camera) and solarization (a deliberate overexposure of a print during development, creating reversed tones in the final image). This is also sometimes referred to as the Sabattier effect, and can be seen in the self portrait above.
Though he was (and remains) best known for his photography and Rayographs, he was also a painter, sculptor, filmmaker and performer. He was named one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century by ARTnews magazine.
A few fun facts:
- Photographer William Wegman named his first Weimaraner after Man Ray.
- Kiki de Montparnasse was a character in Whitney Otto’s 1995 book Now You See Her.
- Man Ray’s last magazine assignment was a 1968 portrait session with Catherine Deneuve.
- You can see more images here.
- Self portrait via Stephanie via Flickr
- Rayogram via Juliana via Flickr
- Tears via Mikey C’s Photos via Flickr