Fire Escapes and Umbrellas
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© Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

Man Ray
American, 1917
Gelatin silver cliché verre

6 7/8 x 4 13/16 in.

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This picture was made using the cliché verre (glass negative) process, which involves scratching a design into a layer of emulsion or pigment on glass, then using the plate as a negative to make photographic prints. Man Ray first worked with the technique in 1917 and returned to it on at least two later occasions, publishing the results in such journals as Aventure and Der Sturm. Artists of the French Barbizon school in the late 1800s used the technique as a method of printmaking.

This image may look like a sketch, but it is actually a photographic print made with such a negative. In these pictures, Man Ray challenged the uniqueness of a drawing by making it reproducible while also playing with the definition of photography by sketching the subject on a negative rather than using a camera.