Author: Hosford, Romy
Date published: November 1, 2011
Journal code: IAFT
MAN RAY IN PARIS BY ERIN C. GARCIA/GETTY PUBLICATIONS, 2011/128 PP/$24.95 (HB).
In this era of memes and mash-ups the surrealists and dadaists deserve another look. Man Ray in Paris, a ecent publication from the J. Paul Getty Museum by former assistant curator in the Department of Photographs Erin C. Garcia, does just that. Chronicling Man Ray's most productive years in 1920s and '3Os Paris this work explores the mutual streams of influence among Man Ray and his artistic contemporaries including Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte, and Salvador DaIi. The introduction and beautifully reproduced images illustrate Man Ray's beginnings as an artist and how he came to utilize photography, first as a means to document his work and that of others, and then to explore the medium itself, which led to the development of his signature Rayographs. The volume also documents his portrait work for Vanity Fair, the impact of the disintegration of dada, and the rise of surrealism upon his work, as well as his later life in New York after World War II.
The remainder of the book explores the major themes and experiments of Man Ray's photographic work, letting the images speak for themselves with full-page reproductions and short contextual introductions on the leading pages of each section. Of particular note are the artist's experiments in color utilizing the labor-intensive tri-carbo process. Garcia notes that after creating the image that became the cover of his first book in 1934, "Man Ray quickly abandoned color processing until years later, when technologies had greatly improved" (104). The text ends with a section called "Objects," which reminds us that most, if not all, of Man Ray's work relied on the power and inherent meaning of objects, and the artist's challenge to create meaning through them.
ROMY HOSFORD is a multimedia artist and assistant professor of visual art at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York.