Photography

10 Most Famous Rayographs of Man Ray

Errika Gerakiti 27 August 2019 min Read

Man Ray is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century and today is his birthday! On this occasion let's have a look at his famous rayographs.

There have been many articles and features about his life and work in the magazine (here you can read a bit about his relationship with Kiki and here about his famous cadeau). Today, I would like to pay tribute to his rayographs, a kind of work not original, as the technique has been used before, but representative of his oeuvre and his deep inspiration from dadaism and surrealism.

Man Ray was best known as a photographer, mostly of fashion and portraits. Many of his photographs appeared at french Vogue of the time. 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, he transformed some of them and put them together in front of a light-sensitive surface, like a photographic paper, and exposed them to light. He explained that 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!

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

"It has never been my object to record my dreams, just the determination to realize them." (1945)

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

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

"All critics should be assassinated."

Man Ray, Untitled rayograph, 1923, Courtesy of 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)

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

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

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

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

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

"I do not photograph nature. I photograph my visions."

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

"Unconcerned but not indifferent."

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

"My works are purely photometric." (1959)

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