Man Ray was one of the greatest experimenters of the twentieth century, together with Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, who brought about a revolution in art.
Man Ray was responsible for raising photography to the rank of full-fledged art, on a par with painting and sculpture. Many of his creations have become symbols of the twentieth century. This is paradoxical as he actually set himself against the rules of photography and even went so far as to shun the use of the camera, turning to new experimental techniques to create images that were not without a certain charm, and especially mystery, of their own.
This book contains over 120 masterpieces by the American artist divided by theme: people, portraits (including those of his famous models Meret Oppenheim and Lee Miller), and a series of fashion photographs, as Man Ray also worked for the major magazines of the period, such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. His 1937 shots for the Mode au Congo series are worth singling out as examples of the influence of African culture on surrealist art. His nudes and female faces conclude the wonderful selection.
The slow shutter speed typical of metaphysical photography reveal a meditative impulse and attention to context that give the lie to the artist’s ostensibly anarchic, spontaneous approach to his work. It is no accident that the human figure is often replaced by wooden mannequins in poses that are, however, neither cold nor impersonal, but on the contrary sensual, even erotic. Sometimes, in an identity transfer, it is the human figure that behaves like a mannequin and Man Ray’s “cabinet of curiosities” gives us female figures with sculptural poses inspired by classicism, at times with a tribal touch resulting in unusual combinations, such as one with an African mask, and at others frozen rigid to the extent of losing their limbs.