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Man Ray (1890-1976) is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. Besides a wealth of fashion, portrait and advertising photographs, he also produced autonomous work. Man Ray’s versatile oeuvre clearly shows how these diverse genres and applications work together. This is likewise reflected in the Électricité series he produced in 1931 for the Compagnie parisienne de distribution d’électricité, the company that supplied the whole of Paris with electricity.
Électricité consists of ten photographs depicting the subject of electricity and its use in modern daily life. It is a key work in early modernist photography, combining the artistic possibilities of autonomous photography with the practical application of advertising. Using photogram and double printing techniques, Man Ray portrays the subject with unconventional playfulness and inventivity. Électricité was way ahead of its time and forms an unparalleled highpoint in the photography of the 1930s. In this edition of the Rijksmuseum Series, Man Ray introduces the artistic possibilities of autonomous photography with advertising