Surrealism

10 Most Famous Rayographs of Man Ray

Errika Gerakiti 25 May 2022 min Read

Man Ray is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century! Today, I would like to pay tribute to his rayographs and the inspirations he drew from Dadaism and Surrealism.

Man Ray was best known as a photographer, mostly of fashion and portraits. Many of his photographs appeared in the French Vogue. He also made photograms, named rayographs by Tristan Tzara in reference to their creator. Man Ray took several objects, like a comb, a spiral of cut paper etc., then he transformed some of them and put them together in front of a light-sensitive surface, like photographic paper, and exposed them to light. He explained the concept was pure Dadaism, based on rejection and abstraction.

He published a selection of his rayographs as Champs délicieux in December 1922. He also adapted the technique to his film Le Retour à La Raison in 1923.

Without any further chatter, enjoy 10 of his most famous rayographs, followed by some of his best and most characteristic quotes!

1. Untitled with a Spring

Man Ray, Untitled rayograph, 1922, Courtesy of Christie's, London, UK.
Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1922. Christie’s, London, UK.

It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them.

(1945)

2. Untitled with Roll of Film

Man Ray, Untitled rayograph, 1923, Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.
Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1923, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.

(1948)

3. Untitled with a Comb

Man Ray, Untitled rayograph, 1922, Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.
Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1922, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

All critics should be assassinated.

4. Untitled with a Figure

Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1923. Art Basel.

An original is a creation motivated by desire. Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity. It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human.

(1968)

5. Untitled with Bird and Feather

Man Ray, Untitled rayograph, 1946, Courtesy of Phillips, New York, USA.
Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1946, Phillips, New York, NY, USA.

I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.

(1970s)

6. Planes

Man Ray, Planes, 1922, Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA.

I believe in the relation between photography and music; And that is my inspiration.

7. Untitled with Glass

Man Ray, Untitled tayograph, 1922, Courtesy of Artsy.
Man Ray, Untitled, rayograph, 1922. Artsy.

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask ‘how’, while others of a more curious nature will ask “why”. Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information.

(1952)

8. Paper Ribbons

Man Ray, Paper Ribbons, 1924, Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA.

I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions.

9. The Manekin

Man Ray, The Manikin, 1923, Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA.
Man Ray, The Manekin, 1923, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA.

Unconcerned but not indifferent.

10. Feather and Matchboxes

Man Ray, Feather and Matchboxes, 1923, Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery; Man Ray rayographs
Man Ray, Feather and Matchboxes, 1923, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT, USA.

My works are purely photometric.

(1959)

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