Imaging Paris: Le Violin de Ingres

Man Ray. Le violin de Ingres. 1924.
Man Ray. Le violin de Ingres. 1924. [Source: Google Images/Man Ray Trust]

Doctoring photographs was nothing new when Man Ray created this iconic image in 1924. Photographers had been retouching photos ever since Niépce and Daguerre invented the medium in the early 1800s. Indeed, an early test of the “art” in photography was evidence of the photo-maker’s hand in the print. It was understood to be a sleight of hand, known to discerning connoisseurs but not to the public at large. What was astounding and revolutionary about Man Ray’s work was the obvious irony of his manipulation. To impose anachronism on it, Le violin de Ingres can be viewed as the Mother of All Photo-shopped Images.

The model here is the legendary Kiki of Montparnasse, in her salad days, demurely Orientalist.

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