United States of America 1890 – France 1976

No title (Paper spiral) 1922 Description: [Leaf 5] from the book Les champs delicieux
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph photogram (called rayograph by the artist) Impression: 19/40

Dimensions: 22.6 h x 17.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1982
Accession No: NGA 82.2024.7
  • The first successes in photography were made by placing objects directly onto sensitized paper and achieving an image through light being blocked or partially blocked by the object and the paper darkening where the light hit the paper. Over the years many photographers returned to this ‘cameraless’ way of making images. They are usually referred to as photograms; Man Ray experimented extensively with the technique, calling the resulting images rayographs, after himself. The surrealists appreciated the transformation of ordinary objects into the mysterious; as Andre Breton commented, ‘often the simplest [objects] are the most enigmatic, the most charged with possible contacts with our mental activity’.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra