Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case EDUC, Shelf 12.2

Rayograph

Photogram
ca. 1964 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Man Ray was an artist of enormous international standing, who worked in many media including photography. He began to make rayographs when he moved to Paris in 1921. Rayograph was Man Ray's name for photogram, a type of photograph made without a camera or a lens. To make photograms, objects are placed onto light-sensitive paper and then exposed to light. The light areas of the print are where objects have rested on the paper and stopped light exposing the paper.
This technique appealed to Man Ray because the process was automatic, and this fitted into Surrealist thought and practice. It represents ordinary objects in an ambiguous way, capturing their forms and shadows rather than describing their structural or tactile qualities. Almost flat objects appear as almost flat forms, but where the shadow is shown, as with the matchbox, the object is not so easily recognisable. By concentrating on the play of light and shadow, the most familiar of everyday objects take on a strange and unexpected character.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Photogram or 'rayograph' printed ca. 1964 from an original made between 1921-1928
Brief Description
Photogram by Man Ray, 'Rayograph', gelatin-silver print, printed ca. 1964 from an original made between 1921-1928
Physical Description
A black and white 'rayograph' depicting an abstract composition with some recognisable forms including alphabet stencils and a revolver.
Dimensions
  • Height: 29.1cm
  • Width: 21.5cm
Dimensions taken from Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1990
Production
A rayograph (or photogram) is a type of photograph made without a camera or a lens. Objects are placed onto light-sensitive paper and then exposed to light. The paper is developed and fixed after exposure. The light areas of the print are where objects have rested on the paper and stopped light exposing the paper.
Summary
Man Ray was an artist of enormous international standing, who worked in many media including photography. He began to make rayographs when he moved to Paris in 1921. Rayograph was Man Ray's name for photogram, a type of photograph made without a camera or a lens. To make photograms, objects are placed onto light-sensitive paper and then exposed to light. The light areas of the print are where objects have rested on the paper and stopped light exposing the paper.

This technique appealed to Man Ray because the process was automatic, and this fitted into Surrealist thought and practice. It represents ordinary objects in an ambiguous way, capturing their forms and shadows rather than describing their structural or tactile qualities. Almost flat objects appear as almost flat forms, but where the shadow is shown, as with the matchbox, the object is not so easily recognisable. By concentrating on the play of light and shadow, the most familiar of everyday objects take on a strange and unexpected character.
Associated Object
Circ.708-1964 (Version)
Bibliographic References
  • Thrall Soby, James ed. Man Ray : photographs, 1920-1934, Paris. New York: Hartford, 1934).
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1990
Collection
Accession Number
E.2580-1990

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record createdFebruary 23, 2009
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