Avant-Garde Photography


La Photographie n’est pas l’art [= Photography is not Art]. 12 photographies. Avant-propos d’André Breton.

Paris, GLM, 1937.

Large 8vo, publisher’s printed blue wrappers and black paper chemise with die-cut rectangular window, custom-made half blue calf chemise lettered in black and matching slipcase by Atelier Devauchelle Paris. (8) pp., 12 half-tone photographs on yellow coated sheets by Man Ray (1890-1976), (2) pp. Foreword by André Breton (1896-1966). Complete.

First edition of Man Ray’s famous Surrealist work.

Photography is not art, proclaims Man Ray, re-visiting a hotly controversial issue during the first half of the 20th century – Is Photography Art? – as examined in the influential Paris magazine L’Art. Even though Man Ray’s provocative works were among the photographs generally agreed by critics to be, in fact, art, Man Ray himself seemed barely interested in considering the question. “There’s no point trying to find out if it’s an art,” he said. “Art is a thing of the past. We need something else. You’ve got to watch light at work. It’s light that creates. I sit in front of my sheet of photographic paper, and I think”.

Emmanuel Radnitzky, known as Man Ray (1890-1976), was born in Philadelphia. Just a few years later, his family moved to Brooklyn, NY. In 1915, he met the French artist Marcel Duchamp, and together they formed the New York group of Dada artists. Although growing up in America, he spent most of his life and career in Paris. There, he continued to be a part of the artistic avant-garde and associated with the Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles of artists and writers. Also a successful portrait and fashion photographer, Man Ray received commissions for commercial work featured in influential publications such as Vogue, Bazaar, and Vanity Fair. Legendary photographer, painter, poet, and maker of objects and films, Man Ray was one of the most versatile and inventive artists of the 20th century. He famously coined “rayograph”, a photographic process that creates an image without the camera (Bruce Silverstein).

Excellent copy without the usual fading to the blue covers.

Ref. Éditions GLM, 1923-1974, Bibliographie, (1981), 148