I've spoken before about my love of George Hurrell's work, I also adore Man Ray's work and thanks to my lovely husband paying for the tickets and the decision of the couple who were getting married to have their ceremony start at 3pm - we had enough time (just) to be able to go to the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in that London before the wedding. The wedding being the main reason for a trip to that London in the first place.
The wedding was lovely and the Man Ray photographs were just gorgeous - beautifully monochrome though with a few later colour ones - which IIRC were done by a three layer colour technique that also involved carbon paper - though I may have got that completely wrong as I have said before - I am a intuitive rather than technical photographer and technical details are not my strong points. In fact thinking about it - I can't remember if I read that in a blurb next to the pictures or on a programme about Erwin Blumenfeld - another of my favourite photographers.
The exhibition featured work from 1916 when he was starting out in New York, his work in Paris of the 20's and 30's and his Hollywood work from the 40's - not as breathlessly glamorous as Hurrell's but still gorgeous and then his work in Paris until his death in 1976.
I first heard about Man Ray when I was in my late teens and slightly obsessed (a slight obsession that has continued) with Dadaism and Surrealism (my favourite painter is Magritte and I am lucky to have seen a lot of his work in the main gallery in Brussels) and I think I bought a postcard copy of his portrait of Nancy Cunard see here with all her wonderful bracelets from the Whitworth Gallery Shop. I was mostly skint as a teenager and postcards were an affordable way to buy copies of artwork. I still have that postcard somewhere. I also fell in love with the portrait of the lady who had a violin as her back -image no 5 on the slideshow and the exquisite eyelashed eyes with such big beautiful round tears - see here
It was wonderful to see pictures of all the people and artists I had read about all those years ago, the names which I couldn't then and probably still can't pronounce flooding back to me in a lovely proustian rush. Those lunchtimes spent in the library reading about the Armoury Show and Duchamps love of chess and found objects were not wasted. I could lose myself in that period of post and pre war horror many, many times over. There is a glamour and a playfulness and an inventiveness about his photographs I find utterly enchanting and I know I am going to lose myself in the exhibition catalogue many times over in the next few weeks.
Plus I find myself inspired to take actual portraits (in b+w obviously) something which I very rarely do as I usually prefer to take pictures of places, things or reflections so watch this space as I experiment. It seems you can recreate 'solarisation' in photoshop though that means sitting in front of a computer 'fannying about' so I might just have to resort to proper old school chemicals and light instead........