Le Violon d’Ingres by Man Ray, 1924

“There is no progress in art, any more than there is progress in making love. There are simply different ways of doing it.” 

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see this image?
a.The woman or b. The impression of a violin?

Well, for Man Ray, the famous modernist photographer and painter, it was perhaps a lush combination of the beautiful female form (of Kiki de Montparnasse) and his vision of the beautiful female form. As one of the prominent names in Surrealist and Dada movements, Man Ray invented photographic techniques – most importantly the “Photograms“. He preferred to call them “Rayographs” as a reference to himself.

Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres is inspired by the Neoclassical painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, whose paintings on women are indescribably charming, glamourous and unrivaled! Ingres paid special attention to the portrayal of female backs in some of his major works. Man Ray painted the f-notes of the violin on the paper and then photographed Kiki on the same paper.

Notice that her arms are positioned out of view; perhaps in an effort to depict the smooth contours of the instrument!

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