Georges Braque (Primary Title)

Man Ray, American, 1890 - 1976 (Artist)

Solarized gelatin silver print with additions in red crayon by the artist
3 ½ × 2 3/8 in. (9 × 6 cm)

Man Ray was able to imbue his portraits with a sense of drama, excitement, mystery, and wonder through a process of cropping and enlarging. The artist typically photographed his subjects from a distance of at least ten to twelve feet. Once he had created a contact sheet from the negative, Man Ray would mark the image with red ink or crayon to indicate where he intended to crop any surrounding spaces or extraneous details. Through cropping, enlargement, over-exposure, and retouching when necessary, Man Ray could alter the original image in a number of ways. Making these various modifications during the printing process in the darkroom collapsed the physical and emotional distance that existed between the artist and subject when the photograph was first taken. The enlargement process also softened the sitter’s features and compressed the space surrounding them, as seen in this portrait of the French Cubist painter Georges Braque (1882–1963). Notice that Man Ray’s ink additions also changed the orientation of Braque’s head, tilting it back to create a more commanding posture with a confident, upward-looking gaze.

Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment
Man Ray: The Paris Years, VMFA, October 30, 2021 – February 21, 2022

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