“A camera alone does not make a picture. To make a picture, you need a camera, a photographer, and above all a subject. It is the subject alone that determines the interest of the photograph.” Man Ray 1890-1876
Once in a while, there comes along a person, whose approach to the established pecking order, is out of the ordinary.
And that leads to conclusions from observers….either they say he/she is mad or eccentric…or they say the person is a genius.
As an example, many people who looked at Einstein, with his long, overgrown unkempt hair, his mannerisms and his habits, regarded him as nothing but a madman, an eccentric, or at least, a weirdo.
Another example was the British astronomer Patrick Moore….the guy was so bright in his chosen subject, but when he spoke, you could hardly understand what he was saying, he spoke that fast. And he too, had his out of the ordinary ways.
Such a person was Man Ray, the writer, painter, sculptor, film maker and photographer.
He was multi-talented, but his techniques were frowned upon by the establishment. They judged his photos and his techniques to be cheap tricks, carried out by an equally cheap magician.
On the other hand, his followers realised that the man had an innate sense of being able to perceive the veil around real life, and then to be able to pierce that veil and allow the ordinary man to see it.
And the many people who aligned themselves with him were of similar tastes, one such lady being Peggy Guggenheim.
She was the daughter of a very wealthy, but apparently failed businessman, who died when the Titanic sank in 1912. Eventually inheriting $2.5 million, a huge sum in those days, she drifted towards the avant-garde world of art and all things Bohemian.
Soon she became famous in social circles for her outrageous ways…she once stood naked in front of her butler while giving him orders…and although very wealthy, she was very stingy, known to scraping dinner guests’ leftovers back into serving bowls, and once spending an entire day searching Venice for cheap toilet paper!
Peggy and Man Ray remained good friends, often being seen at the same social events, and he took many shots of her in her prime.
But back to Man Ray….even though he had by now achieved status in the art world, some people still said he was just another eccentric, obsessed with women. He confirmed this in a sense, during an interview once, when asked what had satisfied him the most during his life, to which he replied “I think….women”
Whatever the case, Man Ray was a one-off and his work still fetches huge prices.
“I paint what cannot be photographed, that which comes from the imagination or from dreams, or from an unconscious drive. I photograph the things that I do not wish to paint, the things which already have an existence.” Man Ray
all photos flickr.com