A brand new exhibition, Man Ray et la mode, collates the artist’s early trend images, which started with an encounter with couturier Paul Poiret
In the early 1920s, Man Ray was struggling to make ends meet, working as an artist in New York. His good friend, the artist Marcel Duchamp, suggested him to maneuver to Paris the place lease was cheaper and the artwork scene was thriving. And in 1921, that’s precisely what he did: Man Ray arrange a images studio in room 32 of what was then the Grand Hôtel des Écoles (now, Hôtel Lenox), within the metropolis’s Montparnasse neighhbourhood, and commenced work as a commisioned portraitist, whereas persevering with to develop his artwork. He quickly gained visibility as a photographer, and the next 12 months he started capturing for Vainness Honest, capturing numerous luminaries of the day.
Man Ray’s early years in Paris would mark his introduction to the world of trend, too; throughout this time, he met the couturier Paul Poiret (via Gabrièle Buffet-Picabia, spouse of Dadaist painter Francis Picabia). Conscious that working for Poiret may get him nearer to the Parisian excessive society he longed to see his work, Man Ray supplied to take his portrait – however the couturier wasn’t , as a substitute giving him use of his fashions and numerous gadgets of clothes on which Man Ray may apply his images. “He needed to eliminate him,” says Alain Sayag, one of many commissioners of Man Ray et la mode, a brand new exhibition at Musée Cantini in Marseille specializing in the artist’s forgotten trend oeuvre. “He informed him one thing like ‘go photograph some clothes’ in order that he would depart him alone.”
However for a few exceptions, trend images didn’t exist on the time; magazines merely featured trend illustrations which aimed to depict garments in a method seamstresses may reproduce them. Seeing Ray’s work, Poiret commissioned him to undertake a collection which might seize his new assortment; the ensuing photographs would come with Peggy Guggenheim, photographed in a richly embroidered robe, and Denise Poiret, the couturier’s spouse, who posed subsequent to a Brancusi sculpture. Different homes would comply with swimsuit: Vionnet, Lanvin, Chanel and Schiaparelli, amongst them, however Ray nonetheless regarded such commissions as a sideline to his work as an artist.
That stated, his two practices started to merge: the experimental lighting and framing strategies he employed in his artwork started to tell his trend images, too. In 1922, Vainness Honest revealed his first rayograph, a apply of ‘images with out lens’ the place the form of the thing is printed on photographic paper by the use of gentle and shadow, creating advanced, summary photographs. Presently he additionally explored photomontage, assembling completely different parts of his images; he performed with framing too, reducing into images to create surreal crops which centered on singular physique elements. “His work matches into avant-garde actions and into the rising mass tradition on the similar time,” says Sayag. “His images promote trend and cosmetics in addition to a Surrealist aesthetic.” The Tears collection, the place he put glass beads on a mannequin’s cheeks to seem like tears, minimize in to show solely her eyes, is one such instance: initially commissioned by beauty model Arlette Bernard for a mascara advertisment, it has since grow to be one in all Man Ray’s most recognisable works of photographic artwork.
Man Ray’s profession in trend reached its zenith within the 1930s when he met Carmel Snow and Alexey Brodovitch, then editor-in-chief and artwork director of Harper’s Bazaar. They understood that images may push trend imagery far past what it presently was, and Man Ray was the particular person to pioneer this. Within the photographs he took for the journal at the moment, he would weave wax mannequins and human our bodies, sculptures and garments, portraits and photomontages, giving beginning to a brand new photographic style which melded trend and surrealism (and arguably set the precendent for the style editorial to this present day). A number of of those seem in Man Ray et la mode: in a single, revealed in 1936, a girls’s physique seems like a dressmaker’s bust; one other depicts a model’s hand balancing amid numerous creative objects, dripping with Cartier jewelry (within the exhibition, clothes of the period by homes like Lanvin, Jean Patou and Schiaparelli sit alongside).
However Man Ray remained ashamed to work on fee, says Sayag. “As contacts and prints belonged to the magazines he labored for, an excellent a part of his work for trend acquired misplaced of their archives, and he made it so that folks forgot that a few of his extra placing creative work initially got here from trend.” Within the 1940s, the artist moved to Los Angeles to pursue his profession in portray and he by no means labored in trend once more. But the photographs which stay are an essential doc of his work as a photographer, the nascent levels of the world-renowned artist he would grow to be.
Man Ray et la mode is at Musée Cantini, Marseille, till March 08, 2020.