Blast From The Past
Man Ray, Le Violon d’Ingres, 1924
Before there was photoshop, there was Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky).
Man Ray was an admirer of the paintings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique
Ingres and made a series of photographs, inspired by Ingres’s
languorous nudes, of the model Kiki in a turban. Painting the f-holes
of a stringed instrument onto the photographic print and then
rephotographing the print, Man Ray altered what was originally a
classical nude. He also added the title Le Violon d’Ingres, a French
idiom that means “hobby.” The transformation of Kiki’s body into a
musical instrument with the crude addition of a few brushstrokes makes
this a humorous image, but her armless form is also disturbing to
contemplate. The title seems to suggest that, while playing the violin
was Ingres’s hobby, toying with Kiki was a pastime of Man Ray. The
picture maintains a tension between objectification and appreciation
of the female form.