Surrealism and photography, when combined, is compelling and marvelous. May Ray was one of the pioneers of this state-of-the-art style and this violin-like photograph of a woman was his most famous work.
Emmanuel Radnitzky, or plainly Man Ray, was an American surrealist photographer. Aside from photography, film, painting, sculpture, and writing were his passions, too. He was a master of all trades and he excelled in all of the aforementioned art mediums. His early works revolved around cubism and expressionism. His style in photography made use of various techniques which created a definitive tinge of surrealism. Ray was also known for an enduring technique called rayography.
Ray’s illustrious, sepia photograph of Missus Kiki de Montparnasse wearing only a turban was strongly influenced by Ingres’s dreamy nudes. He manually painted the f-holes or f-notes onto the photographic print. He altered the original image into a more suggestive portrait. He magically transformed the woman’s voluptuous body into a stringed musical instrument, the violin. The armless detail is, somehow, disturbing but it also adds to the appreciation and objectification of the female figure.
Just like Philippe Halsman, Ray’s style can be highly likened to a classical version of the Photoshop. He manipulated photographs into his personal preferences and the outcomes were stunning and timeless. His works envisioned today’s digital revolution. Ray still remains as one of the most original photographers in history and his Le Violon d’Ingres, among his numerous masterpieces, will forever be instilled in our inspirations.
Our intention with the Influential Photographs series is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value