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Photogram by Curtis Moffat, circle and radiating lines

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read Cameraless photography Cameraless techniques have been exploited and reinterpreted by successive generations of image makers and continue to be used by contemporary artists today. While related to the conventional practices of photography, cameraless images offer an alternative, experimental, radical and often r...

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
Brief description
Photogram by Curtis Moffat, circle and radiating lines
  • Height: 366mm
  • Width: 287mm
Gallery label
  • Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2011-2012, label text : Curtis Moffat (1887-1949) Dragonfly About 1925 Simple ‘camera-less’ techniques became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, with the desire to create pattern and explore aspects of scale and space. Man Ray, with whom Moffat worked in the 1920s, was one of the pioneers of this process. To make this image, Moffat placed a dragonfly directly in a photographic enlarger and projected it onto light-sensitive paper. Gelatin silver print Given by Penelope Smail Museum no. E.880-2003 (07 03 2014)
  • Cameraless Photography Curtis Moffat (1887–1949) Abstract Compositions c.1925 Gelatin silver prints 59 36.6 x 28.7 cm 60 37.2 x 29.4 cm 61 36.5 x 29 cm 62 29.1 x 24.5 cm Given by Penelope Smail Museum nos. E.880-2003, E.2555, 2557, 2554-2007 Moffat began experimenting with photogram techniques in collaboration with Man Ray in Paris from 1923. He titled them Abstract Compositions and exhibited them in the showrooms of his London interior design emporium, Curtis Moffat Ltd., seeing them as an element within a decorative scheme. Yet he also described them as ‘painting with light’ and showed them as artworks in their own right. Alongside his use of the photogram, Moffat’s Abstract Compositions employed other cameraless techniques. In one image, an insect’s body – a grasshopper, locust or cricket – is used in place of a photographic negative. In another (p.62), he appears to have painted directly on the paper, perhaps with photographic chemicals.
  • Gallery 100 ‘A History of Photography’, 2014-2015, label text: Curtis Moffatt (1887–1949) ‘Abstract Composition’ About 1925 Moffat’s work included dynamic abstract photographs, innovative colour still lives, and glamorous society portraits. In the early 1920s, he collaborated with the artist Man Ray in Paris, making abstract photograms, or ‘Rayographs’. These were made in the darkroom by placing objects directly on photographic paper to make the exposure. Photograms are unique and no camera or film is involved. Gelatin silver print Given by Penelope Small Museum no. E.2557-2007 (06 03 2014)
Credit line
Given by Penelope Smail
Object history
In Paris during the 1920s, Moffat collaborated with Man Ray, one of several avant-garde artists to revive the photogram, which was originally used at the invention of photography in the 1830s. Man Ray called his photograms 'Rayographs.'

Moffat's photograms are among the earliest examples of the 20th-century interest in camera-less, abstract photography.
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Record createdJune 30, 2009
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