Man Ray’s Unconcerned Photographs are a series of images he created in 1959 for MoMA’s The Sense of Abstraction exhibition. Made in his Paris studio by swinging a Polaroid camera around on its strap, they epitomise his spontaneous, experimental approach.
“I deliberately dodged all the rules, I mixed the most insane products together, I used film way past its use – by date, I committed heinous crimes against chemistry and photography, and you can’t see any of it.”
– Man Ray
While messing about in his darkroom in 1922, Ray accidentally created a photogram by placing a small glass funnel, graduate and thermometer on wet photographic paper. He elaborates in his autobiography, “I turned on the light; before my eyes an image began to form, not quite a simple silhouette of the objects as in a straight photograph, but distorted and refracted by the glass more or less in contact with the paper and standing out against a black background, the part directly exposed to the light.”
His camera-less photographs, coined Rayographs, seemed to remove all traces of the artist’s hand, while incorporating negative space and shadow, randomness and chance.
Now seen in galleries around the world, Ray’s radical photographic experiments firmly established him as a Surrealist, pushed the boundaries and turned traditional art-making on its head.