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Oleg Moiseyenko's Stock Photography | all galleries >> masters >> 13 Photographs That Changed the World > Le Violon d’Ingres - Man Ray, 1924
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Le Violon d’Ingres - Man Ray, 1924

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.

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Dave Wyman26-Nov-2012 20:10
"By ridiculing a now-obsolete concept – the photographic image as literal interpretation of reality"

Yet the photograph, any photograph, whether it be on paper or a computer monitor, is itself a part of literal reality.
Guest 12-Aug-2012 22:42
Ingres did not paint nudes as a hobby- they were an integral part of of his long professional career as an artist. As a young man he played the violin in theatre orchestras in order to make money to live. He could have had a career as a violinist but chose painting.
The expression, Le violon d'Ingres in French is idiomatic for something you do as a hobby at a very level.