Photograms and Rayographs

Image coming soon!

Man Ray was a prominent American born artist who helped create a new photographic art technique called rayographs in the 1930’s. In this lesson, students recreate the mood and feeling of Man Ray’s art using Crayola® Dry-Erase to explore positive and negative space.

  • 1.

    Introduce students to the work of artist Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky). Share several of his photograms, or “rayographs” as he called them, for students to examine closely.

  • 2.

    Have students respond to the rayographs either verbally or in written form and then share with their reactions the class. Their responses should include what they enjoy about the art, what they see in the rayographs, how they think Man Ray created this art, etc.

  • 3.

    Have a class discussion on positive and negative space in art terms, negative space being the area around the objects (the black areas in the photograms) and positive space being the objects themselves (the white areas in the photograms).

  • 4.

    Explain to students that they will be creating their own photograms. Man Ray called his photograms rayographs in reference to himself so students can rename their photograms accordingly. Provide students with a Crayola Dual-Sided Dry Erase Board, a white Washable Dry-Erase Bright Crayon, and a variety of small, found objects, manipulatives, school supplies, natural objects, etc. Have students experiment with a number of arrangements on the black side of their dry-erase board until they find one that find aesthetically pleasing.

  • 5.

    Students can either trace or free-hand their objects using the white dry-erase crayon. Encourage students to obtain a variety of tones with their crayon by using more layering and pressure in some areas and less layering and smudging in others depending on their chosen objects.

  • 6.

    When their photograms are complete, have them photographed and displayed.

Standards

  • LA: Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through another media.
  • MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.
  • MATH: Represent and interpret data.
  • VA: Students demonstrate an understanding that creative thinking and artmaking skills transfer to many aspects of life.
  • VA: Students demonstrate and understanding that art communicates about and helps viewers understand the natural and constructed world.
  • VA: Students experience, analyze and interpret art and other aspects of the visual world.
  • VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

Adaptations

  • Have students create another true rayograph using photosensitive paper. Create a hypothesis for how each photogram will look given variations in time, transparency of objects and light intensity, and conduct an experiment.
  • Compare and contrast the rayographs made by Man Ray to photograms produced by other known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Anna Atkins, Markus Amm, etc.
  • Have students study a friend’s rayograph and sort or classify the objects according to a set criteria (area, type, perimeter, size, shape etc.) or contrast and compare two objects (line type, measurable attributes, length units).