Declaring that “every creation should be inspired rather than informative”, Man Ray’s relationship with fashion photography becomes clear when linked to his artistic practice. This is because he was unable to see it purely as mercantile production, and sought to twist the conventions that governed the discipline of fashion photography at the time. This relationship is illustrated in his memoir, Self-portrait (1963), in his account of his early experiments and his meeting with Paul Poiret. The couturier and patron of the arts, whose portrait he would always regret not taking, shared his studio and photography equipment with Man Ray to encourage this experimentation. It was there, when developing his first prints taken at the headquarters of the couture house, that he invented the technique of the Rayograph. This iconic image of Peggy Guggenheim, elegantly dressed in a lamé gown by Poiret, reminds us of this fortuitous encounter and evokes that atmosphere of the 1920s – the early years of Man Ray, the American expatriate, when he joined the Paris art scene and grew closer to the surrealists. This society photograph of one of the most fervent collectors of modern art also echoes the portraits of Chanel and Schiaparelli, the two great female couturiers who embodied their own signature style. Their modern quality was also captured masterfully by Man Ray. Their relationship and collaboration with the art scene is characteristic of this interdisciplinary dialogue between the arts.
Miren Arzalluz, Director Palais Galliera, Paris