Monday, November 28, 2011


Sources used:

Books on Man Ray:

Lips on Lips




Man Ray is very much remembered for his stunning photographs (although considering himself more of a painter). He is remembered greatly for his photograms (a photographic image made without a camera by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material such as photographic paper and then exposing it to light. The result is a negative shadow image varying in tone, depending on the transparency of the objects used). In true artistic fashion, he renamed this technique to "Rayographs." He discovered this technique during his early years working in Paris.

Space Writings (2)

Space Writing: Find Man Ray's Signature

I came across the above link on the Smithsonian website and found it so exciting to see how Man Ray was able to disguise his signature in his 1935 Space Writing photograph so well within the patterns of light swirls AND that it went undetected for so long. Here is an excerpt from the article written by Abby Callard.

"In 1935, the avant-garde photographer Man Ray opened his shutter, sat down in front of his camera and used a penlight to create a series of swirls and loops. Because of his movements with the penlight, his face was blurred in the resulting photograph. As a self-portrait—titled Space Writings—it seemed fairly abstract.
But now Ellen Carey, a photographer whose working method is similar to Man Ray’s, has discovered something that has been hidden in plain sight in Space Writings for the past 74 years: the artist’s signature, signed with the penlight amid the swirls and loops.
“I knew instantly when I saw it—it’s a very famous self-portrait—that his signature was in it,” says Carey, a photography professor at the University of Hartford. “I just got this flash of intuition.” Her intuition was to look at the penlight writing from Man Ray’s point of view—which is to say, the reverse of how it appears to anyone looking at the photograph. “I knew that if I held it up to a mirror, it would be there,” Carey says. She did, and it was."

Space Writings (2)


In this 1930's series 'Space Writing,' Man Ray became the first artist to explore the technique of 'light painting.' Man Ray mainly considered himself a painter, so the bridge between paint and photograph was revolutionary for his work and for artist across time. He accomplished this technique by setting up his camera to produce a self-portrait, opening the shutter and using a small penlight to make a sequence of swirls and linear images in the air.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait with View Camera

Silver Gelatin Photograph
h: 10.2 x w: 8.9 in / h: 25.9 x w: 22.6 cm

Indestructible Object (Object to be Destroyed)

Indestructible Object (Object to be Destroyed)
1923 Theme: Dadaïsts Surrealists/Remade 1933, editioned replica 1965
Wooden Metronome with eye
215 x 110 x 115 mm (unconfirmed) 

Man Ray's "Indestructible Object/Object to be Destroyed" pictured above was made in 1923, after he and Lee Miller split. He attached a photograph of Lee's eye to the metronome and described the constant back and fourth motion of the eye to be a symbol of her unending presence. He ended up destroying the original sculpture (Object to be Destroyed) and made 100 other versions titled Indestructible Object. He explained that the name change was due to the fact that it would be very difficult to destroy all one hundred of them.