- Man Ray
- Rayograph with Hand, Lens, and Egg
- Unique gelatin silver print photogram
- 9½ by 7 in. (24 by 17.9 cm.)
Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, 1998
Milwaukee Art Center, Man Ray, February - March 1973
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Man Ray: Photographs and Rayographs from the Collection of Arnold H. Crane, July - September 1973
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Man Ray: A Comprehensive Survey of Man Ray's Varied and Influential Achievements in Photography Drawn from the Arnold H. Crane Collection, June - August, 1975
New York, Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, June - September 2004, and 4 other international venues through 2007 (see Appendix 1)
Palm Beach Photographic Centre, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, March 2011
Middletown, Delaware, Warner Gallery at St. Andrew's School, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, October - November 2011
Jennifer Blessing, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection (Guggenheim Foundation, 2004), pp. 97 and 241
Broom, March 1923, Vol. 4, No. 4
Offset Buch und Werbekunst, 1926, No. 7, p. 388
ReD, Oct. 1927, No. 1, p. 23
László Moholy-Nagy, Painting Photography Film (Cambridge, MIT Press reprint of the 1925 original edition, 1987), p. 77
Photo Graphics: Photographs from the Collection of Arnold H. Crane (Milwaukee Art Center, 1973)
Emmanuelle de l'Ecotais, Man Ray: Rayographies (Paris, 2002), no. 67 (reproduced from Broom)
As Moholy-Nagy’s caption suggests, Man Ray’s work with the photogram process had a transformative effect upon his chosen subject matter. The photogram had been one of the earliest applications for the young art of photography in the 19th century. Talbot’s photogram of lace and Anna Atkins’s of pressed plants are early examples of placing an object onto photo-sensitive paper to produce a record of its shapes and details. In the early 20th century, the process was turned to more expressionistic ends by photographers such as Man Ray, Christian Schad, Moholy-Nagy (Lot 20), August Sander (Lot 19), and others. In the present image, the hand, egg, and lens elements—which would have been placed on, or held just above, the photographic paper during exposure in the darkroom—transcend their literal forms, achieving a degree of enigmatic abstraction that appealed to anarchic Dadaists, dream-obsessed Surrealists, and adherents of Moholy-Nagy’s more practical approach to Modernism. The originality of Man Ray’s work with the photogram technique was also celebrated beyond the art world: the November 1922 issue of Vanity Fair featured an article on Man Ray’s Rayographs entitled A New Method of Realizing the Artistic Possibilities of Photography.
The Rayograph offered here also has a significant exhibition history: Man Ray included it in his own 1962 retrospective exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Shortly thereafter, it was purchased by the pioneering photography collector Arnold Crane, who featured it in at least three exhibitions of Man Ray’s work in the 1970s, including ones at the Milwaukee Art Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Finally, it has been shown in three exhibitions devoted to Henry Buhl’s Collection.
Sotheby’s wishes to thank Man Ray authority Steven Manford for his assistance in researching this photograph.