Man Ray: Photographs 1920–1934. Preface by Man Ray. Texts by Texts by Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, Rrose Selavy [Marcel Duchamp] and Tristan Tzara. Portrait by Pablo Picasso. James Thrall Soby, Hartford & Random House, New York, 1934. 104 pp. Small folio. "Second" edition. Spiral bound stiff photo-illustrated wrappers. 104 full-page black and white gravure reproductions.
Edition Note: As is well-known, the title page cites the publisher's fictitious claim of "second edition". Sales of the book were anemic, to say the least. The title pages--presumably for most of the print run--were replaced with "second edition"/"deuxième édition" in order to suggest the first edition had sold out and create further demand.
"Photographs 1920-1934, Man Ray’s 1934 collection, was a carefully assembled survey, a tribute that, through its format and choice of texts, revealed much about the artist’s conception of himself A book was the ultimate form of legacy artists were meant to leave behind. Photographs 1920-1934 was Man Ray’s most cogent statement to date, an assembled chorus of statements and images, a summary that was also a valedictory”
"Man Ray imbued everyday scenes with drama and mystery, making the familiar feel strange and unsettling. Buildings and landscapes are photographed from odd angles with dramatic shadows. The edge of a cliff juts out like an enormous hook nose, a beak, with a hole in the rock that is positioned in the place of an eye. It is an eerie formation, an uncanny arrangement of nature which is the sort of unusual observation that the Surrealists loved. A dead leaf curls up as it dries to become an object of beauty and reveals an astonishing natural symmetry. The ruins of a castle in Provence are frighteningly empty, as though it is the aftermath of a terrible event.
"Man Ray invented a new aesthetic for photography. At a time when photography was finding its way as a medium, his photographs became works of art in themselves. During his lifetime he said of his work: 'I began as a painter. In photographing my canvases I discovered the value of reproduction in black and white. The day came when I destroyed the painting and kept the reproduction. From then on I never stopped believing that painting is an obsolete form of expression and that photography will dethrone it when the public is visually educated. I know one thing for sure: I need to experiment in one form or another. Photography gives me the means, a simpler and faster means than painting.'"--Excerpted from, Hannah Duguid,
The unseen Man Ray, The Independent, 13 May 2009
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Solidly Near Fine; spiral firmly attached save for first rung of spiral detached from front panel & text block; moderate wear to edges; 1" crease near crown of spine; short faint crease lower corner; personal stamp of former owner, verso front cover, plus hand-written name of a second owner; rear cover typically tanned, moderately rubbed.