JF Ptak Science Books Post 1843
“I have never painted a recent picture." Man Ray, 1966
“Unconcerned but Not Indifferent”—1976, Man Ray’s epitaph.
Emmanuel Radnitzky (1890 –1976) removed the “Emm_uel” and the “__dnitzk” from his names to become Man Ray, a South Philly-born, Brooklyn- and Manhattan-bred Parisian ex-Pat artist became (by the early 1920’s) perhaps the most influential of the Dadaist/modernist photographers. No offense to his given name, but “Man Ray” is superior.
And Man Ray was far more than a photographer, as he worked across many different art forms, not the least of which was motion pictures. But what comes to my mind first with his name is his self-titled “rayograph”, a photographic process which was actually a photogram, which was the direct exposure of an object placed upon a photosensitive paper. This is also the earliest form of photography, something employed by Fox Talbot who called it “photogenic drawing”) as early as 1834. (I wrote a little bit about this process in a post "Things That Almost Were But Weren't".) But Man Ray’s rayographs stand clear and distinct to me, different even from his contemporaries’ works (including Susan Derges, Max Ernst, Raoul Hausmann, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Rodchenko).
Of course my antiquarian pretender (the image on the above right) to the rayograph isn’t one—it just had the look and feel of one, contained that shock of recognition that I had seen it before, and the palce where I would’ve seen it was with Man Ray. All I did with this engraving—an image of clockworks published in Abraham Rhee’s Encyclopedia of 1810--was to solarize it. So it isn’t even a rayograph, but just looks like one, though Man Ray did work quite a bit with the solarized image. I just like it.
This is the engraving in its "before" (and superior) state: