Man Ray’s life and art were about freedom, pleasure, and a continuous search for new and innovative means of expression. He used a variety of techniques in his painting, sculpture, filmmaking, and photography. This work is a rayograph, a technique developed by and named after the artist. To create the image, Man Ray placed objects directly on photosensitive paper and exposed them to light. Unlike a traditional photograph, however, each work is unique; there is no negative from which to make additional prints. In 1921, Man Ray created his first rayograph soon after moving to Paris. There he met artists associated with two important twentieth-century art movements. The first was Dada, which had no rules—anything was acceptable and could be art—and the second was the Surrealist movement. The Surrealists grew out of Dada and were interested in the merging reality with the unconscious. Man Ray’s use of chance effects and unexpected combinations in Frosted Objects (of my Affection) parallels the odd mixtures of things we experience in our dreams. Some of the items in this work—scissors, a mousetrap, keys, and a wishbone—are easily identifiable. The other items are impossible to identify yet evoke a feeling of familiarity when juxtaposed against other recognizable objects.
Label from For the Love of Things: Still Life, February 27–May 29, 2016