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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Paris
    Drouot Estimations, Paris, 20 November 2007, lot 23

  • Literature

    Emmanuelle de l'Ecotais, Man Ray: Rayographies, pl. 50 (this print)
    Galerie des 4 Mouvements, Man Ray: 40 Rayographies, pl. 7 (this print)
    Heiting, Man Ray: 1890-1976, p. 204 (this print)
    Manford, Behind the Photo, n.p., for stamp

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I saw Picasso here on his knees before a photogram” Man Ray, 1929

    Man Ray’s rayographs stand at the forefront of Modernism with their evocation of the unconscious and their radical use of camera-less photography. Though photograms were first discovered in the early days of photography, Man Ray’s rayographs, as he called his photograms, were a revolutionary departure from the nineteenth-century optical/chemical process of copying nature. In his hands the photogram became an artistic gambit that transformed common objects into mysterious happenings.

    This unique rayograph, created by Man Ray when he first began working with the photogram technique, depicts a stemmed glass and several prism shaped objects. Viewers are lured into the image’s rhapsodic space in which the ordinary becomes extraordinary. It is not a mechanical copy of nature, but a new and exciting pictorial adventure.

    Man Ray started making rayographs in the winter of 1921-1922. The first one was an accident. While making contact prints in his tiny bathroom, his makeshift darkroom in a hotel in Montparnasse, one unexposed sheet of photo paper inadvertently got into the developing tray. Not wanting to waste paper, he placed objects on the wet photo paper and turned on the light: “before my eyes an image began to form, not quite a simple silhouette of the objects as in a straight photograph, but distorted and refracted by the glass more or less in contact with the paper and standing out against a black background, the part directly exposed to the light.”

    The Dada poet Tristan Tzara was the first person to see Man Ray’s seminal rayographs and recognized immediately their historic impact. In his introduction to Man Ray’s portfolio of twelve rayographs, Les champs délicieux (The delightful fields), 1922, Tzara wrote, “As the mirror effortlessly throws back the image, and the echo the voice, without asking us why, the beauty of matter belongs to no one, for henceforth it is a physico-chemical product.” Indeed, Man Ray’s Untitled, 1922 rayograph recasts modern art production through the chemical process of photography and catapults the tangible into a limitless realm of unknowing.

301

Rayograph

1922
Unique gelatin silver print.
9 1/4 x 6 7/8 in. (23.6 x 17.7 cm)
Signed in pencil on the mount; 'Rue Campagne Premiére' (Manford M5) credit stamp on the reverse of the mount.

Estimate
$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $300,000

Contact Specialist
Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245

Photographs

New York 3 October 2017