History of Photography



Introduction  
History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary









 

 


THE STORY BEHIND THE PICTURES 1827-1991

 

 

1   Nicephore Niepce. View from the Study Window, 1827

2   Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre. Boulevard du Temple, 1838

3   Eugene Durieu/Eugene Delacroix. Nude from Behind, ca. 1853

4   Duchenne de Boulogne. Contractions musculaires, 1856

5   Auguste Rosalie Bisson. The Ascent of Mont Blanc, 1862

6   Nadar. Sarah Bernhardt, ca. 1864

7   Francois Aubert. Emperor Maximilian's Shirt, 1867

8   Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi. Dead Communards, 1871

9   Maurice Guibert. Toulouse-Lautrec in His Studio, ca. 1894

10 Max Priester/Willy Wilcke. Bismarck on his Deathbed, 1898

11 Heinrich Zille. The Wood Gatherers, 1898

12 Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage, 1907

13 Lewis Hine. Girl Worker in a Carolina Cotton Mill, 1908

14 August Sander. Young Farmers, 1914

15 Paul Strand. Blind Woman, 1916

16 Man Ray. Noire et blanche, 1926

17 Andre Kertesz. Meudon, 1928

18 Robert Capa. Spanish Loyalist, 1936

19 Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936

20 Horst P. Horst. Mainbocher Corset, 1939

21 Henri Cartier-Bresson. Germany, 1945

22 Richard Petersen. View from the Dresden City Hall Tower, 1945

23 Robert Doisneau. The Kiss in Front of City Hall, 1950

24 Dennis Stock. James Dean on Times Square, 1955

25 Bert Stern. Marilyn's Last Sitting, 1962

26 Gerard Malanga. Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground, 1966

27 Helmut Newton. They're Coming!, 1981

28 Sandy Skoglund. Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981

29 Robert Mapplethorpe. Lisa Lyon, 1982

30 Joel-Peter Witkin. Un Santo Oscuro, 1987

31 Sebastiao Salgado. Kuwait, 1991

 

see also:

RAY MAN




Chapter 16 (part I)

 


1926
 


Man Ray

 

 


Noire et blanche
 

Kiki with the

Mask

Painter, graphic artist, writer, experimenter with 'read-made' art - throughout his life, the American artist Man Ray oscillated among various disciplines. Nonetheless it was primarily as a photographer that he achieved fame as creator of a richly varied ceuvre in which the photograph serves less to illustrate reality than to express the artist's surrealistically inspired images, fantasies, and visions.

 

This picture is found in every catalogue, every exhibition of Man Ray's work. In addition to La Priere, Vioion d'lngres, Les Larmes, and a series of more-or-less experimental portraits of Ray's Paris artist friends, the image is among his best-known photographs. The picture was already included in the catalogue of 1934, Man Ray's first programmatic summary in book form. The artist himself accounted the originally square photograph, cropped into various formats, as one of the core works of his photographic production of the 1920s and early 1930s - an evaluation still shared today by exhibition organizers, writers, as well as art dealers and gallery owners. When Klaus Honnef put together his Pantheon of Photography in the Twentieth Century, Man Ray was represented by Noire et blanche as a matter of course; similarly in the catalogue to the large and highly respected Man Ray retrospective in 1998 in the Grand Palais in Paris, where Kiki with the Mask formed the upstroke as it were to a discriminating aesthetic discussion of his photographic ceuvre. And as far as the international art market is concerned, by the middle to end of the 1990s, Noire et blanche had turned up at auctions on three occasions, making the headlines every time, in the process, that had undergone fairly minor cropping print brought in a prodigious $206,000 at Christie's in 1995, just as the year earlier an unnamed buyer had paid $320,000 for Man Ray's probably most prominent photograph as a vintage print. Last but not lease, in 1998, a collector - once again at Christie's - was pre-pared to pay no less than $550,000 for the motif in the form of a diptych, making Noire et Blanche into one of the most sought-after treasures in the international photographic trade.




 

Man Ray
(1890- 1976)
Black and White
1926




 

Man Ray
(1890- 1976)
Black and White
1926

 

The same sleep and the same dream

 

About the picture itself and its creation we know little. Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky in 1890 in Philadelphia, was by no means an artist who spoke willingly about his work. Even his comprehensive autobiography published in 1963 avoided discussing concrete pieces. It is clear, however, that the photograph was made at the beginning of 1926 in Man Ray's studio at 31 rue Campagne Premiere, which the now-successful portrait artist had opened four years earlier in Paris, his adopted city of residence. The photograph was first published on 1 May 1926 in the French magazine Vogue under the title Visage de nacre et masque d'ebene (Pearl face and ebony mask). The picture appeared again two months later in the Belgian Surrealist magazine Varietes (No. 3, 15 July 1928), now under the title Noire et blanche (Black and White), and once more, in November of the same year, in Art et decoration, this time with a text by Pierre Migennes: "The same sleep and the same dream, the same mysterious magic seem to unite across time and space these two female masks with closed eyes: one of which was created at some point in time by an African sculptor in black ebony, the other, no less perfect, made up yesterday in Paris."



 

Man Ray
(1890- 1976)
Black and White
1926

 

The opposite of a rapid-fire shooter

 

Man Ray was in the habit of giving his photographic and all other creations ringing titles ever since he had visited the legendary New York Armory Show in 1913. A propos Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, Man Ray had concluded that without its provocative title, the picture would hardly have received all the attention that the press and public paid it. Whereas L'enigme d'lsidore Ducasse, Retour a ia raison, and A I'heure de i'observatoire belong in this sense to the most striking and inventive of Man Ray's titles, at first glance Noire et blanche seems in contrast to be hardly more than a simple description, even if, from the perspective of Western culture, which normally 'reads' from left to right, the correct reference would have to be Blanche et noire - a title valid in fact for the negative of the picture (which of course presents the image in reverse).

Man Ray, who began photographing as an autodidact in 1914, was initially concerned with achieving an adequate reproduction of his own painting and art objects. As a photographer, he was cautious - the opposite of a 'rapid-fire shooter', as Emmanuelle de I'Ecotais points out. Even his preference for working with a 3 1/2 x4 3/4-inch plate camera required a carefully thought-out and economical method of procedure. Especially in the face of these hindrances, May Ray must be accounted an extraordinarily productive photographer: no fewer than twelve thousand negatives and contact prints were turned over alone by Man Ray's last wife, Juliet, to the French nation. Among them were several variations of Kiki with the Mask - pictures that prove that Man Ray had in this case been initially unsure of the valid formulation of his pictorial idea and that he reached the final composition only after passing several stages.

This was not the first time that Man Ray gave West African art a determinant role in his work. As early as 1924 in the creation of La lune brille sur i'ile de Nias, he had photographed an unidentified young woman next to a sculpture of a Black African, admittedly without reaching a convincing formulation of an image that barely arose above the illustrative. Two years later, Noire et blanche confirmed his continuing interest in the art of 'primitive' peoples, which in fact had had an extremely great influence precisely on the Avant-garde after 1900 (Expressionists, Fauvists, Cubists). Ray himself had first become acquainted with African art around 1910 in Alfred Stieglitz's New York gallery 291, and in his autobiography, African art is significantly mentioned in the same breath as the artistic expressions of Cezanne, Picasso, and Brancusi. The mask in this case, moreover, is a work in the Baule style, supposedly one of those cheap replicas which even in those days were available everywhere. In the studio, Man gave form to his dialogue between 'white' and 'black', between an inanimate object and a supposedly sleeping female model (Kiki, in reality Alice Prin, once more taking on the role), in front of a neutral background. Shortly after moving from New York to Paris in 1921, Ray had become acquainted with the young woman, a favorite nude model in artistic circles, whose defiant charm was precisely such as to appeal to Man Ray. In his memoirs, the photographer described at length his first meeting with 'Kiki de Montparnasse: "One day I was sitting in a cafe Soon the waiter appeared to take our order. Then he turned to the table of girls, but refused to serve them: they weren't wearing hats. A violent argument arose. Kiki screamed a few words in a patois I didn't under-stand, but which must have been rather insulting, and then added that a cafe is after all not a church, and anyway the American women all came without hats... Then she climbed onto the chair, from there onto the Lable, and leapt with the grace of a gazelle down onto the floor. Marie invited her and her friends to sit with us; I called the waiter and in an empathic tone ordered something for the girls to drink."





 

Man Ray
(1890- 1976)

Black and White
1926

 

First lover during the years in Paris

 

Before long Kiki became the first of Man Ray's lovers during his early years in Paris. For him she was a model, a source of inspiration, and also an antagonist in turbulent scenes, in ever-new portraits and nude photographs, Man succeeded after 1922 in capturing something of the irascible spirit of this legendary artists' sweetheart. Perhaps the most famous of these photographs is a portrait from 1926, which may have been made on the same day as Noire et blanche. In any case, the pale complexion, clearly contoured lips, and the pomaded, tightly combed-back short hair suggest the proximity.

Kiki is holding the mask to her cheek, supporting it with both hands and casting a dreamy look sideways toward the art object - a shot in vertical format, which apparently satisfied the artist just as little as the symmetrically composed, markedly static version in which Kiki's chin is set against that of the mask as a so-to-speak mirror image. Numerous details in the photograph - clothing, jewelry, Kiki's naked bust - distract from the real intention. Only the addition of the table as a stable, space-defining horizontal element, combined with narrower framing, provided a formally convincing solution. Now the horizontal stands unmistakably against the vertical, black against white, living against lifeless, European against African: the equality of the cultures is underlined by the negative print. Moreover, the subtle use of light, which emphasizes the strong geometry of the composition, plays a convincing role.

Man Ray had already published a photo titled Black and White on the cover of the magazine 391, edited by Francis Picabia, in 1924. In that work, a classical statuette contrasted with an African sculpture; now, as if in a further development of the same concept, Man Ray set a human face against a 'primitive' mask. In the earlier work, Man's English title implied no reference to the sex of the subjects. With Noire et blanche, on the other hand, there can be no doubt: what is portrayed is, so to speak, a purely feminine dialogue that, in best Surrealist tradition, well understands how to remain somewhat mysterious. There can be no doubt that Noire et blanche is more than a merely formal game. At the very least, according to Emmanuelle de I'Ecotais, the work is exemplary for one of Man Ray's fundamental dictates: provoquer la reflexion.

 

 

 

Man Ray
 

(b Philadelphia, PA, 25 Aug 1890; d Paris, 18 Nov 1976).

American photographer and painter. He was brought up in New York, and he adopted the pseudonym Man Ray as early as 1909. He was one of the leading spirits of DADA and SURREALISM and the only American artist to play a prominent role in the launching of those two influential movements. Throughout the 1910s he was involved with avant-garde activities that prefigured the Dada movement. After attending drawing classes supervised by Robert Henri and George Bellows at the Francisco Ferrer Social Center, or Modern School, he lived for a time in the art colony of Ridgefield, NJ, where he designed, illustrated and produced several small press pamphlets, such as the Ridgefield Gazook, published in 1915, and A Book of Diverse Writings.

 


Self-Portrait


 

Self-Portrait Assemblage
1916


 


Juliet et Margaret


 


Marcel Duchamp
1919


 

Female Nude
1920


 

Woman Smoking a Cigarette
1920


 

Tsuguhara Foujita


 

Rrose Selavy


 

C
ift
1921


 

Joseph Stella and Marcel Duchamp


 

Anxiety


 

Berenice Abbott


 
Self-Portrait with Chess Set


 
Belle Haleine


 
Man Ray with Pipe
1921


 
Jean Cocteau


 
The Marquise Casati
1922


 
Marcel Proust on His Deathbed


 
Filmstrips with Kiki


 

Untitled Rayograph: From the Portfolio "Les Champs Délicieux"


 

Untitled Rayograph: From the Portfolio "Les Champs Délicieux"


 

Untitled Rayograph: From the Portfolio "Les Champs Délicieux"
1922


 

 Rayograph
1922


 

 Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927

 

 


Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Rayographs
1922-1927


 

Net and Shavings
1924


 
Gun with Alphabet Stencils


 

Ingres' Violin
1924


 
Kiki Standing Nude
1925


 
Barbette Applying Makeup
1926

 



 
Gertrude Stein and Jo Davidson with Portrait Sculpture


 
Light Patterns
1927


 

Snakeskin


 

Scissors and Cut Paper


 
Rose Rolando
1928


 
Florence Meyer
1929


 

Sleeping Woman
1929


 

Natasha


 

Woman with long hair
1929

 
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