“Dada is artistic free-thinking.” — Breton
Man Ray (1890-1976), American photographer, painter, designer, sculptor, and filmmaker, arrived in Paris in 1921. Inspired by a unique artistic vision grounded in the deliberate irrationality of Dada and the incongruous vision of Surrealism, Ray created a gallery of striking photographs: unforgettable images that etch themselves into the mind and transform our perceptions of reality. This beautiful large-format volume reproduces on coated stock a rich selection of these works, created amid the intellectual and artistic ferment of the 20’s and 30’s.
To achieve his remarkable effects, Ray experimented with various techniques: over and under exposure, shooting through different fabrics, superimposing images, and zeroing in on tiny details. In his words: “The removal of inculcated modes of presentation, resulting in apparent artificiality or strangeness … is to be welcomed.” To preserve the full dramatic impact of his ground-breaking work, Dover has carefully and painstakingly reproduced these photographs from a rare gravure edition. The photographs are divided into 5 groupings:
Photos 1-24: general subjects (still lifes, rooms, landscapes, cityscapes, flowers)
Photos 25-42: female figures, mainly nudes
Photos 43-66: women’s faces (including Gertrude Stein)
Photos 67-84: celebrity portraits (Ray, Dalí, Tzara, Sinclair Lewis, Joyce, Eluard, Breton, Derain, Braque, Matisse, Picasso, and others)
Photos 85-104: rayographs, “cameraless” compositions created by resting objects on unexposed film
Also included in this edition are acclamatory texts by Eluard, Breton, and Tzara in the original French with English translations; a German text by Rrose Sélavy (pseudonymous) with English translation; an Introduction by Ray with French translation, and a portrait of Ray by Picasso.
Today, Ray’s individual photographs command high prices on the collector’s market. Indeed, the original edition of this book sells for hundreds of dollars. The publication of this inexpensive Dover edition thus allows photographers, artists, designers, and students of art and photography an unparalleled opportunity to savor and study these iconoclastic masterpieces. Most of the photos are full page, or nearly so, and reveal the profoundly original vision of a man for whom the violation of convention was “far preferable to the monstrous habits condoned by etiquette and estheticism.”