Trivium Art HistoryMan Ray

Black and White

Black and White, 1926 — Man Ray
18 cm23.5 cm

Black and White is a Dadaist, Surrealist, Photography, Gelatin Silver Print Photographic Print created by Man Ray in 1926. The image is tagged Women, Primitivism, and Kiki of Montparnasse. Source

Man Ray’s Noire et blanche is a photograph exemplary of Surrealist art. The striking faces of the pale model and the dark mask have a doubling effect. This repetition is a reminder that a photograph is a double of what it represents, namely, a sign or an index of reality. In Surrealism the act of doubling indicates that we are all divided subjects made up of the conscious and unconscious. In reading this photograph as typical of primitivism, the woman can be understood as European civilization and the mask as “primitive” Africa. The image draws a parallel between the two faces presenting them as related to each another. The title “black and white” is a word play because the order is reversed when reading the image left to right. The artist also printed a negative version of this image. The photograph was first published in Vogue. It is a portrait of Kiki of Montparnasse, Man Ray’s lover and model at the time the photograph was taken.

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