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Man Ray : Paris Photographs, 1920-34 Paperback – March 1, 2001
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The original is titled "MAN RAY / PHOTOGRAPHIES / 1920-1934 PARIS" on one side the title page and "MAN RAY / PHOTOGRAPHS / 1920-1934 PARIS" on the other side. It has a white plastic comb binding. Its cover, in color, shows the words "Man Ray" in the middle, a bust of Man Ray at right, a woman's head toward the bottom, etc. After the Contents/Sommaire is a portrait of Man Ray by Picasso and a brief essay "The Age of Light" by Man Ray in English and French. Plates 1-24 cover still lifes, interiors, landscapes, flowers, etc. A poem in French and English by Paul Éluard entitled "Man Ray" follows; after that are photos 25-42 primarily of nude women. An essay "THE visages of THE woman" in French and English by André Breton is followed by #43-#66 of women (none naked); only the last woman (Gertrude Stein) is named. Rrose Sélavy (who was actually Marcel Duchamp) contributed "Men before the mirror" in German and English, and photos 67-84 of men ensue*. "When things dream" in French and English by Tristan Tzara precedes the final section of 20 "Rayographs 1921-1928" (photograms) numbered 85-104. The photos, printed by gravure (not offset printing as in the reprints), have a smooth tonal range.
The East River 1975 signature-bound paperback has the full title "Man Ray Photographs 1920-1934," but its black-and-white front cover says only "MAN RAY / PHOTOGRAPHS" at the top. At the bottom of the front cover is a solarized photo of a woman with arms cradling her head (#35). The 6-page introduction is by A.D. Coleman. The major differences from the original are: (1) there is no reproduction of the original front cover; (2) there is no portrait by Picasso; (3) only the English versions of the texts are given (not the French or German); and (4) the texts are in different fonts than the original (i.e., they have been re-typeset). However, the photos are well-reproduced compared with the other two reprints (i.e., not too contrasty and without much spotting), the placements and sizes of the photos on the pages are similar to those in the original, and the paper is sturdy.
The Dover 1979 signature-bound paperback has the title "PHOTOGRAPHS BY / MAN RAY / 105 WORKS, 1920-1934." (Note that there are only 104 B&W photos; work "105" is the original front cover.) The front cover shows a solarized portrait of Man Ray and a camera (#67); the back cover reproduces the original 1934 front cover in color. Between the Contents/Sommaire and photo 104, the Dover edition closely follows the original. The major differences are: (1) the placements and sizes of the photos on the pages sometimes diverge from those in the original**; (2) there are a lot of white spots on the photos (e.g., on page 61); (3) generally, the photos are more contrasty; and (4) the paper is somewhat less sturdy. However, unlike the East River edition, the portrait by Picasso and the texts in all three languages are facsimile reproductions.
This Delano Greenidge 2000 (not 2001 as Amazon indicates) signature-bound paperback has a title of "Man Ray: Paris Photographs 1920-34." The cover photo is #44, also known elsewhere as "Black and White" ("Noire et Blanche"), on a mostly black background. It comes with an introduction by D. Greenidge in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. It has sturdy paper, little spotting of the photos, and a one-page bibliography at the end. Unfortunately: (1) there are no texts by Man Ray et al.; (2) it doesn't show you the color cover or the portrait by Picasso; (3) generally, the photos are slightly darker and more contrasty; (4) the placements of the photos on the pages sometimes diverge from those in the original; and (5) the photograph on page 55 (of a woman behind mesh) is reversed (as though the negative had been flipped) and is much more contrasty.
Since both the lack of texts and the mediocre reproduction of the photos are problematic, I am giving this book only two stars. If you're interested in Man Ray and don't have access to the original 1934 book, choose one of the other two reprints. If you want to appreciate the B&W photographs, get hold of the East River edition. If you want to appreciate the original cover, the portrait by Picasso, and the texts as originally printed, obtain the Dover edition. These two editions are probably available elsewhere at Amazon.com!
* The men are Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Tristan Tzara, Sinclair Lewis, James Joyce, Paul Éluard, André Breton, André Derain, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Brancusi, S. M. Eisenstein, Le Corbusier, Arnold Schoenberg, and George Antheil. The name of the last man, who is in drag and adjusting a garter, is not given; per the "Man Ray Official Digital Photographic Library," he's "Barbette."
** Examples of placement differences: in the Dover edition plates 14 of the train and 40 of the lips are near the tops of the pages, but in the original they're near the bottoms. Examples of placement and size differences: in the Dover edition plates 68 of Dali and 78 of Duchamp take up nearly full pages, but in the original they are smaller and on the upper lefts of the pages.
This book features objects, nudes, portraits and Rayographs. The space between truth and fiction is bridged through the elements of design and his images are visually pleasing. His nudes define femininity. They are ideal for the male gaze which captures the essence of the female form through erotic eyes. It is evident that Man Ray knew the rules therefore he could break them. Rayographs were made by placing objects directly on film. Ray created graphically interesting images using this process which contained both dada and surrealist ideas.