Denis Piel’s best photograph – Man Ray at his house

please note this post is not by Jay Clapp Photography but from the photography news at the guardian for your viewing pleasure please feel free to use the share buttons at the bottom.

‘Man Ray lived in a tidy junkyard of a house in Paris. I took this on my way out: it captures his simplicity’

In the 1970s, I lived in Paris for a few years. I went through a period when I thought the whole world was surreal. My great-uncle was the surrealist artist André Masson, and I mixed with artists such as Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst. It was Max who first introduced me to Man Ray in 1973. We met a few times, and I asked if I could take his portrait; how could any photographer not want to photograph him?

Man Ray agreed, and we set a date. I went over to his house, which was in a not-very-chic part of Paris, not at all fancy: a tidy junkyard, really, full of stuff. I’d come armed with electronic flash equipment, but Man Ray was unimpressed – so I ended up shooting him mainly in daylight. I asked him to sit in front of a screen: I thought that would be stronger, visually, than having a whole collection of objects in the background. Recently, I discovered he had taken a picture of Catherine Deneuve in front of the same screen.

I was nervous, but the atmosphere was relaxed. He was very straightforward and generous with him time: I stayed for a couple of hours. Juliet, his wife, chatted away while he played with some bits of paper that he was working with.

When I was ready to leave, he showed me out, and there, suddenly, was the picture – the real picture. The contrast of his red cardigan with the monochrome of the house was just perfect. I started setting up my camera again and told him: “This has got to be my shot. Would you just stand there?”

He had had no intention of doing a picture out there. Nor had I, for that matter – I think that’s what makes it so good. It captures his simplicity and generosity; I never got the feeling he was overinflated about who he was or what he had done.

When I moved to New York in 1979, I shipped over all my belongings, including photos, negatives, prints and equipment. The ship got caught in a storm at sea and, to save the ship, all the cargo was cut loose and I lost everything. But I had carried a few pictures on the plane. This was one of them.


Born: France, 1944.

Studied: Self-taught.

Influences:Irving Penn and Robert Frank, for their films as much as their photographs.”

High point: “I hope it’s around the corner.”

Low point: “When I was 19, I loaded the film backwards on an important job. I didn’t get a single image.”

Top tip: “Be brave and daring, but be yourself.” © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Art and design: Photography | Sarah Phillips Thanks for reading Jay


About jayclappphotography

Professional photographer running Feel free to comment and discuss photos

Posted on April 17, 2013, in Photography News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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