Man Ray

Man Ray was where my interest in surrealist photography began, when, in 1974, I wrote my MA thesis at the Courtauld Institute on his work. (I was told it was the first thesis on photography to be undertaken there.)

For this, I visited Man Ray and his wife Juliet in Paris and, when he died two years later, I published a short memoir of that meeting in Creative Camera.

In 1982, I was commissioned by Creative Camera to write a review of a major exhibition of Man Ray’s photographs at the Edinburgh Festival, a useful summing up of my feelings about his work at that point in time.

Subsequently, my interest came to focus on surrealism’s relationship to documentary and, in City Gorged with Dreams, there are only a few references to Man Ray’s work. But his extraordinary photograph ‘Terrain vague’ was an important starting point for the chapter of that title.

In 2009, I was asked by Wendy Grossman to contribute a chapter to her book Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens. My essay looked closely at the coming together of Man Ray and Michel Leiris in a feature on Dogon sculptures in Cahiers d’art (1936). It provided an opportunity to re-consider Man Ray’s photography and perhaps, looking forward, some ways to think more about his work.

Ian_Walker_Man Ray