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Meet Man Ray, a photoshop artist from a time before PhotoShop

Emmanuel Rudnitzky’s masterpieces are on display, for the first time in India. Here’s what you need to know about his work.

mumbai Updated: May 27, 2017 10:06 IST
Rachel Lopez
Many of Ray’s works might seem like film stills. This is Les Larmes (Glass Tears), shot in 1932.
Many of Ray’s works might seem like film stills. This is Les Larmes (Glass Tears), shot in 1932.(© Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ)
Views Of The Spirit – Photographs by Man Ray
  • Where: Tarq gallery, Colaba
  • When: Until July 1, 11 am to 6.30 pm (Sundays and Mondays closed)
  • Entry is free

Man Ray is coming to town. No, we don’t mean the villain from SpongeBob SquarePants who chomps Krabby Patties. Emmanuel Rudnitzky, who fashioned himself into Man Ray, is often considered among the most influential artists of the 20th century. He was a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, poet and a kind of photoshop artist before Photoshop was invented. Those key movements of the early 20th century: Cubism, Futurism, Dada and Surrealism? He was part of them all. And he’s one of the few artists to have thrived in America and Europe.

Over the years. Ray’s images have inspired Andy Warhol’s paintings, been on album covers for REM and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and posters for the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In Mumbai, Views of the Spirit showcases photo works from across his career – images that changed photography from a documentary tool to an art form, a space between the real and fantastical. Here’s a glossary for when you visit:

Rayographs: Ray discovered a technique of making pictures without a camera. He called them Rayographs, photos made by placing and manipulating objects layer by layer on photosensitive paper and exposing them to light. Many of his photographs portray himself and his lovers.

This image called Les champs délicieux 5, shot by Man Ray in 1922, is a rayograph. (© Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / Courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ)

Pre-Surrealist: Ray’s work showed undertones of the art movement that emerged later in his career, and to which he also contributed.

Found objects: One of Ray’s famous works is The Gift, a sculpture that incorporated two objects, tacks and an iron, which he found and glued together. The sculpture renders both objects useless, a key characteristic of Dada art.

This image is called The Gift and was shot by Man Ray in 1921. (© Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / Courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ)

Cinematic: Many of Ray’s works might seem like film stills. Les Larmes (Glass Tears) features eyes looking upward and mascara-coated lashes. The piece was created soon after Lee Miller Ray’s assistant and lover left him. He created multiple works in an attempt to “break her up” as revenge. A cut-out of her eye is featured on the 1932 found-object sculpture Object to Be Destroyed. Her lips fill the sky of Observatory Time (1936).

Solarisation: Ray deployed this photographic process by overexposing film negatives, reverses the tone of the image so dark areas appeared light and vice versa.

Les Arums, shot in 1930. (© Man Ray Trust – ADAGP / Courtesy MONDO GALERIA | TARQ)