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Author Topic: Photo Exhibits, your impressions  (Read 905 times)

Offline hevans

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Photo Exhibits, your impressions
« on: March 01, 2009, 09:16:40 AM »

The wife and I went to the Man Ray exhibit at the Den Haag photomuseum yesterday. While it was a very interesting exhibit, I was left wondering from where all the fuss about Man Ray originated. Ok, he developed the solarisation technique and is credited with the photogram (although this technique was used previously as far back as Fox-Talbot), and produced a few original photos, but what is the reason for his legacy and stature in the world of photography? I can only guess that it's sheer ego, self confidence and falling in with an adoring crowd. Or maybe I'm just desensitized to his radical techniques because they are now quite commonplace.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the exhibit (only having previously known that he was one of the "greats" and having seen a couple of his shots) was that he didn't regard himself as a photographer, but rather preferred his other art forms (painting, sketching, sculpting, etc.). Another intereston(*) was his tendency to photograph his art, and then destroy the original, leaving the photo as the legacy. Also of interest was the quality of his darkroom work - I'm guessing that he would have loved photoshop (also hung out with the surrealist crowd), as the series of processing on a set of portraits showed a print of a badly scarred (scratches, dust, etc.) negative, some retouching of a subsequent print and the a heavy overlay of texture on the final print to hide all the retouching.

The portraits weren't really anything to write home about, composition wasn't outstanding, and the technical side (focus, exposure, etc) also wasn't that great. But maybe I am unfairly comparing his 1950s technical ability and tools to the processors in the latest Japanese cameras, e.g. the Expeed.

All in all, the exhibit was very thought provoking, but not because of the photography. I suppose this would have made him happy.


(*) an intereston is a basic particle of interest.

Offline Oldboy

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Re: Photo Exhibits, your impressions
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 08:43:23 PM »
I think some photographers regardless of abilites, become flavour of the month. It a bit like the emperor's new clothes, if you can't see them then you must be blind. Why did Stephen Hawkins book, a Brief History of Time, become a best seller when very few people would have read it and fewer still understood it?  ;D


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Re: Photo Exhibits, your impressions
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 10:00:52 PM »
I think its generally accepted that he co-invented solarisation with Lee Miller but as she was a junior partner in the relationship (and a woman, it was the 1930s) I suspect a lot of people left her off the credits.

Also with the technical aspects I thought his hayday was the 1930s and 1940s so the technical limitations would have been even greater. Some of the technical limitations may also be because recent prints were taken from negatives that had been in storage a long time becoming damaged.

As ever its more about artistic style than technique and man Ray was extremely influential on the surreallists and others. And he was a very popular portrait photographer.

Have to say I've only really seen his stuff via Lee Miller who I'm a big fan of.


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