Week 43 - 2016

Crushed self image?

Man Ray, Self portrait, 1924/1980 silver gelatin. Property of the Preus Museum collection. 

Crushed self image?

Man Ray is an important figure in international photographic history. He was a surrealist and dadaist, such that he played with expectations of what images and art could be, and used the subconscious as a starting point for his works. He practiced in several art forms but did much experimenting with photography, especially after he moved from New York to Paris in his thirties.

Man Ray took many self-portraits during his life, which is not unusual among artists. In the portrait owned by the museum he is 34 and doesn't look toward the camera but at something we can't see. In his hand he may be holding the self-release.

The glass negative the photograph begins with is broken: we can see it as a stripe across the image. To the left a repair has been attempted with tape. Other versions of the portrait are without a crack. Perhaps Man Ray felt that the damage to the glass plate added something to the portrait about his identity.