The Photograph That Foreshadowed the Future
Before there was photoshop, there was Man Ray. One of the world’s most original photographers, Ray was tireless experimenter. In fact, his work was so inventive that he eventually left the camera behind altogether, creating his surreal "Rayographs" entirely in the darkroom.
"Le Violon d’Ingres" is perhaps his best-known photograph, and one of his earliest. Like many pieces from the Dada movement (which Ray is credited with bringing to the United States), it’s a visual pun. By drawing f-holes on his model’s back, he points out the similarities between the body of a woman and the body of a violin. But it’s a literal pun, as well. Both the model’s dress and pose echo a famous painting by French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominiqe Ingres, whose hobbies were depicting female nudes and playing the violin.
More than just highbrow it, however, Ray’s work was far ahead of its time. By ridiculing a now-obsolete concept – the photographic image as literal interpretation of reality – his pictures foreshadowed our own digital revolution.