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Man Ray: The X-Ray of photography

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Close acquaintance
with the art of photography would be impossible without the characters which
have changed its meaning and perception drastically. Man Ray is exactly the
personality we are looking for. Great artist associated with Dada and Surrealist movement, he also famous for his experiments with photography.

At first, we
need to note that Man Ray is considered himself more as a painter, and he was
one indeed. He came from a family of Jewish emigrants from Russia, and, obviously, his name was a pseudonym.
His personal life was wrapped in a mystery, just as his works.

Let’s take
a look at the experiments he performed with some other medias, besides
photography. We will leave the photos for dessert.

At the
beginning of his career he pursued the dream of becoming a professional painter
and studied various works of Old Masters. But the interesting thing, that even
then, we can see his strive for mixing techniques and trying something new in
his art. We can see the future surrealist born in these early Man Ray’s paintings.

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After
joining the Dada movement, he estranged from the classical painting and keened towards
creating objects and photographs. He was interested not in the still picture,
but in something multidimensional and moving reflected in the image. 

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If you are
wondering what “"rayograph” mean, it’s a special type of photos made with
a process of solarization (the picture is reversed in tone completely or only partially).
And, as you have probably guessed, he named it after himself.

And before
we turn to “classical” Man Ray’s photographs, let’s look at his avant-garde
movies.

Le Retour à
la Raison
is his first cinema experience and may seem like a number of moving
objects caught on tape. But towards the end of the piece we see the naked torso
of a woman, which firstly – controversial, and secondly – brings new almost
Freudian meaning to the name of the movie, The Return to Reason.

Emak-Bakia (Basque
for leave me alone; also can be translated as give peace) is another
fascinating piece, where Man Ray have used many of his photography
techniques. Dream-like reality fully suits artist’s later photo experiments.
Little tip: watch the movie till the end and you will figure out that many
of the modern movie ideas were taken from the early avant-garde experiments. (Hint:
Pirates of the Caribbean and Johnny Depp’s painted eyes).

If you want
to know how the love story would look like from the perspective of the
Surrealists, check this movie called L’Étoile de mer (The Sea Star).

While we
consider Man Ray as a big innovation lover, he saw it a little bit differently.
There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making
love. There are simply different ways of doing it.
” he said in the essay To
Be Continued, Unnoticed
.

Photographs
of Man Ray lie somewhere in between life and art. Many of them have a rich
afterlife. For example, his famous photograph Le Violon d’Ingres, where he
painted sound-holes on the back of the model.

On this
photograph Ray’s readymade is
depicted; just as Marcel Duchamp he was fond of real-life objects turned into art with a great deal of irony and humor. This kind of works emphasized the nonsense of everyday
routine.  

Man Ray’s
photography is extremely important not only to the world of art, but also to
the world of fashion. He changed and broadened the perception of women’s body, and is considered to be one of the first fashion photographers.

Overall,
Man Ray is a vivid proof that photography can be a powerful art tool, you just need to be creative and willing to experiment. And what we need to do is not just looking at photographs, but seeing them. 

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