n the spirit of the Dada and Surrealist movements with which he was associated, Man Ray said that his art was designed ''to amuse, bewilder, annoy or to inspire reflection,'' rather than to dazzle with its technical brilliance. His idiosyncratic, experimental approach to photography, his primary medium, broke the rules of darkroom practice in the service of an avant-garde sensibility that is generously illustrated here.
His work highlights both Man Ray's relationships with specific women and his long-term fascination with the female form as raw material. Nude and draped women are a staple of art, but Surrealism often emphasized a transgressive eroticism, as in ''Spider Woman,'' which combines the cool composure of a fashion model with femme-fatale symbolism, and ''Pebble,'' in which a single stone is set like a nesting egg in a model's armpit. In the famous photograph ''Violon d'Ingres,'' a woman's body becomes that of a musical instrument -- literally an object, and metaphorically a tool for artistic expression. But unlike other Surrealists, Man Ray did not savage his female subjects. Even when fragmented, they are not butchered, suggesting an innate regard that counters Surrealism's pervasive misogyny..
Man Ray used his camera to turn photography into an art – no mean feat for a man who tried almost all his life to avoid being described as a ‘photographer’. He preferred to be identified with his work in other media: drawings, paintings and Dadaist ready-mades.
Unconcerned, but not indifferent is a large-scale retrospective of Man Ray’s art and life. By establishing the linkage between art and inspiration, it gives a new insight into the work of Man Ray.
His real strength is the unexpected intimacy of the images. Mainly sourced from Lucien Treillard, who was Man Ray’s assistant in the last ten years of the artist’s life, many of the prints are not full scale vintage prints but contact prints made directly from the artist’s negatives. These small-scale shots are like a window into Ray’s mind and some of the images show his mark-ups – the portrait of Tanguy for instance has a pen outline of what the final print would show.
An Inspiring photographer and an Icon in his own right.