— February 6, 2013

Inspired by Man Ray

Object and Portrait Photography Inspired by
Man Ray and Cecil Beaton

I am hugely excited about the ‘Man Ray Portrait’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (7th Feb – 27th May 2013).  Man Ray (b.1890 USA d.1976 France), a celebrated dada and surrealist artist in many media, who also became a renowned fashion and portrait photographer, recording the celebrities of Paris during the 1920s and ’30s.   Famous for his avant garde techniques and the strange juxtaposition of objects in his portraits; it is these objects that emphasise and compliment the character of his sitter.

One of my favourite photographic portraits is that taken in 1968 of the actress Catherine Deneuve.  What captivates me is the assemblage of objects around Catherine Deneuve, their obscure nature and arrangement giving the whole image a completely surreal feel: in the background, a folding screen with panels of abstract images and in the foreground, a chess table on which there are six carpenter’s wood planes, up-ended, standing like sentinels guarding Ms Deneuve.  It could almost be a still from a Luis Buñuel film version of Alice in Wonderland !

Taking inspiration from Man Ray, I thought it would be a lot of fun to create some object and portrait photographs that would be a little bit left-field and I called upon the skills and expertise of the talented photographer, Mark Colliton (Mark Colliton Photography), to bring these ideas to life and capture them in camera.

The sepia version above gives the feel of Man Ray’s original photo and the colour version below gives a vibrant and contemporary extension.  Seated at my Hans Olsen (for Frem Røjle) dining table, a stunning pair of 1950s French Radiating Arm Electroliers flank me on left and right and behind me, light cuts through a 1970s Italian Puzzle Folding Screen, a number of my lights and another screen parade in the background.  All objects I love, whether having passed into my collection or being for sale. (Note: the earrings are a “Get the look” rather than the gold-plated ones of Catherine Deneuve !).

In the photo below, the magnificent ‘Swedish Modern’/‘High Tech’/ ‘Industrial’ Ceiling Light, whatever your terminology, has a huge personality and it just had to take over the photo.  Here is a character portrait of ‘Hans-Agne Jakobsson ceiling light c.1970’.

In admiration of the truly theatrical portraiture of Cecil Beaton, I could not resist striking a Britannia pose to represent a strong image and my item categories of: Furniture, Lights and Prints.  My throne is a 1950s Robin Day chair, reaching forth with my trident, a 1960s Electric Candelabra with my shield, a Victor Pasmore Points of Contact screenprint, at my right side. 

Strike a pose !


For more information on the items from the shoot please click on the items to the right.


Mark Colliton Photography

National Portrait Gallery Man Ray Exhibition

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