by Andrea Rosen, Curator of Under the Surface.
Ever interested in light and movement, Man Ray created Space Writing (Self-Portrait) by opening the shutter of his camera for a prolonged exposure and drawing with a penlight in the air. Man Ray appears only as a dark, blurred figure in the background. His doodled outline, his scribbled name in the center (which appears backwards to the viewer of the photograph), and the artworks in his studio behind him stand in as representations of self. Man Ray, born Emmanuel Rudnitsky, was the most influential and widely known surrealist photographer. Having received early success as a painter in New York City, he moved to Paris in 1921, where he practiced commercial portrait photography to support himself. While he continued to consider himself foremost a painter, his experimental photography gained him worldwide renown.
Man Ray (American, 1890–1976)
Space Writing (Self-Portrait), 1935
Gelatin silver print
Museum Purchase, Lloyd O. and Marjorie Strong Coulter Fund 1987.15
© 2014 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris