This week’s post features a double poster; London Transport – Keeps London Going. Produced by famous Surrealist and Dadaist Man Ray in 1938 during a brief residence in London, this image is one of the most well-known in our collection.
Featuring the iconic London Transport roundel in the form of a planet, the original image used in the poster is a photogram. The process, first used in the mid-nineteenth century, involves placing objects onto light sensitive paper and exposing them to light, thereby creating a photographic image without the aid of a camera. Man Ray experimented with this technique by varying the exposure times given to different objects within a single photogram and by moving the objects during light exposure. He then renamed the process a rayograph, after himself.
Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in America in 1890. His family were Russian Jewish immigrants and changed their surname to avoid further discrimination. Man Ray having demonstrated his artistic skills at school was offered a scholarship to study architecture; he ultimately decided to become an artist.
Man Ray held his first solo show in 1915 and developed an interest in photography with his first notable photographs appearing in 1918. He shunned conventional painting and became increasingly involved in the controversial Dada movement which comprised artists and intellectuals of the radical left who, perturbed by the horrors of World War I, espoused forms of expression that were anti-art, anti-bourgeois and anti-materialism.
In 1921 Man Ray moved to Paris where he became involved with the Surrealist movement, an offshoot of Dadaism. His practice from this point onwards focused primarily on photography and film but also included sculpture and painting. He became involved with important members of the art world including Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and Gertrude Stein. Forced back to America for a decade due to the Second World War, he now considered Paris home and returned in 1951. Man Ray remained in Paris until his death from a lung infection in 1976 and was buried in the Cimetiere du Montparnasse where his epitaph reads “unconcerned, but not indifferent”.
Our friends at the National Portrait Gallery are holding an exhibition, Man Ray Portraits, until the 27th May featuring over 150 photographic portraits of fellow artists and celebrities including Catherine Deneuve and Pablo Picasso.
This poster and a selection of products featuring Man Ray’s roundel planet are available from our online shop.
As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.