In late 1921 the American Dada painter and photographer Man Ray produced his first photograms—photographs made without a camera by placing objects on a sheet of light-sensitive paper, then exposing the arrangement to light. He claimed to have stumbled upon the process, which he dubbed “Rayographs,” by chance; it turned out to be an appropriate method for an artist who looked to accidental and automatic occurrences for inspiration. With unexpected combinations of everyday objects, Rayographs articulated a key Dada interest in homemade, “anti-art” reworkings of industrial and consumer society. Man Ray frequently used translucent items like glass bottles, filmstrips, and feathers, valuing their gradation of tones and illusion of three-dimensionality. “They looked startlingly new and mysterious,” he later wrote. With these cameraless images, photography straddled the line between abstraction and representation. Dada leader Tristan Tzara called them “pure Dada creations.”
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Travis, David. 1976. “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget.” Exh. cat. p. 12, cat. 117.
Travis, David. 1979. “Photography Rediscovered: American Photographs from 1900-1930.” Exh. cat. Whitney Museum of American Art. p. 143, pl. 118.
Hight, Eleanor M. 1985. “Moholy-Nagy: Photography and Film in Weimar Germany.” Wellseley College Museum. Exh. cat. p. 134, fig. 108
Krauss, Rosalind and Jane Livingston. 1985. “L’Amour Fou - Photography and Surrealism.” Exh. cat. Cross River Press, Ltd. p. 50, fig. 41
Greenough, Sarah, Joel Snyder, David Travis and Colin Westerbeck. 1989. “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography.” Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art/Art Institute of Chicago. p. 287, pl. 226.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget,” December 11, 1976–February 20, 1977; traveled to the International Center of Photography, New York, April 21-May 29, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 4-December 18 1977; Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 13-Ferbruary 26, 1978; Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois, March 16-April 30, 1978; and Cincinnati Art Museum, November 17-December 24, 1978. (David Travis)
NY, NY, Whitney Museum of American Art, “Photography Rediscovered: American Photographs from 1900–1930,” September 19-November 25, 1979; travel to Art Institute of Chicago, December 22, 1979-February 4, 1980. (David Travis)
Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery, “L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism,” September 14, 1985–November 17, 1985; traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 13, 1985–February, 1986; Paris, France, Centre Georges Pompidou, April 15–June 16, 1985; London, England, Hayward Gallery, July 10–October 3, 1986.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography,” May 7–July 30, 1989; traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, September 16–November 26, 1989; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 21, 1989–February 25, 1990.
Chicago, IL, Terra Museum of American Art, “A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American artists in Paris, 1918–1939,” April 17–June 27, 2004.
Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 10 Permanent Collection Rotation, May 10-September 28, 2014.
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