Rather than shooting an object, it is better to shoot an idea; Instead of shooting an idea, it is better to shoot a dream.
— Man Ray
Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky, 1890-1976) is an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He has been a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself as a painter above all. Man Ray is best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he is a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called “rayographs” in reference to himself.
Man Ray is the first artist in the history whose photography works have attained far more value than other art types that he was capable of. And he is also the world’s first art explorer that extensively used special techniques for photography creation. Many of the photographic techniques still popular and widely applied today are founded by Man Ray. Having greatly expanded the photographic art field and opened up an unprecedented new world, Man Ray is therefore deemed as one of the most significant pioneers in the history of contemporary photography.
Man Ray, who has been involved in the Dada and Surrealist art activities, is a restless photographic technique experimenter as well as a photographic artist. He experimented without camera with some objects placed directly between the light source and light-sensitive materials as to create a photo from the outline and shadow transmission. This kind of photo without negative is known later on as “rayograph” or “photogram”. Darkroom processing and multiple exposure were also employed to merge disorderly together unrelated images that were deformed, omitted, anti-logic or hyper-normal to create the peculiarity between reality and fantasy, figurative and abstract, and an absurd and mysterious realm of art. The images have been filled with certain symbolic and suggestive meanings to make the contents of the works shine but not defined.
The subjects Man Ray took photography of include Pablo Picasso wearing matador costume, Tristan Tzara with a monocle, drunken Sinclaire Lewis, Marcel Duchamp as a drag queen, Francis Picabia sitting in the car holding the steering wheel, James Joyce hand covering his eyes away from the light. There are also photographs of Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Constantin Brancusi, etc.
曼·雷拍過穿鬥牛士服裝的畢加索（Pablo Picasso）、戴單片眼鏡的特里斯丹·匝拉（Tristan Tzara）、醉態畢露的辛克萊·劉易士（Sinclaire Lewis）、男扮女裝的杜尚（Marcel Duchamp）、坐在汽車方向盤後的畢卡比亞（Francis Picabia）、用手遮眼睛擋光的喬伊斯（James Joyce），還有馬蒂斯（Henri Matisse）、勃拉克（Georges Braque）、布朗庫（Constantin Brancusi）等等。
Photography is born to be a surreal art form. However, the works of Man Ray project a unique point of view, that is, photography lies in the scale balance point liberating the surreal and preserving the everyday existence. It is a two-dimensional space scale where the left and right ends possess a strong contrast. To take Kiki in Le Violon d’Ingres, one of Man Ray’s most famous photographs as an example, the woman Kiki in a turban and a piece of cloth, with her back marked with the f-shaped sound holes of a stringed music instrument, seems to suggest the fiddler’s dream has come true. Thus the surreal transformation is earmarked for completion. The uniqueness of Man Ray in the history of photography is not only because of the prominent labels on him, but also of the prominent fact that when he was regarded as a master photographer, he felt embarrassed by the excessive enthusiasm. Man Ray paid more attention to his own art achievements, and often mentioned photography in an irrespectful way, saying “I do not particularly consider myself as a photographer, because for me to be a photographer is merely a means rather than an aim. It is like I often drive because I love having a ride, but it does not mean I want to become a driver.”
琦琦（Kiki）, 《Le Violon d’Ingres》這張他最有名的照片之一為例，照片中女人背部複製了的樂器音箱縫細的記號，頭巾與布幔，似乎提琴手的夢想已經勾勒成真，於此超現實主義的轉化於焉完成。曼·雷在攝影史上的特別，並不僅僅因為他身上的一些顯赫標籤，他最突出的地方在於當他被視作一個攝影大師時，他卻為這種過分的熱情感到尷尬。曼·雷更注重自己的藝術成就,他常常說出一些對攝影並不恭敬的話，“我自己並不特別地認為自己是攝影師。因為對我來說,攝影術只是用於表現的手段而已，它不是目的。我因為喜歡兜風而經常開車，但我自己並不想成為一個駕駛員。”