Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Artwork of the Week #7

Man Ray Self-Portrait with Camera, 1932
Picture: The Jewish Museum / Man Ray Trust
Last week I went to the Man Ray Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, during one of the gallery's late night events. Firstly, I thought the exhibition was very good. It showcases over 150 prints - including many that demonstrate May Ray's beautiful and characteristic technique of solarisation, and his relationships with artists and actors of the time. Great for a bit of celeb-spotting! 

The exhibition is displayed chronologically, across 4 or 5 rooms, which was the perfect size for an hour or so of evening viewing. It also wasn't particularly busy. I can see a packed space being detrimental to the experience of seeing these works, since the prints are hung at an unusually high height and are fairly close together. Since I'm quite little myself, this meant I had to stand a few feet away from the objects to avoid having to crane my neck up - this is all well and good when it's relatively quiet, but not so when there are crowds surrounding you, impatient and keen to get up-close to study the detail of the works. 

If you can make it to one of the late night openings, I'd definitely recommend it. Not only do you get a much more pleasant viewing experience, there's also always other events on for you to enjoy before or after - this week there will be a harp recital within the galleries, and on the 23rd May they will hold a discussion entitled 'Classy and Fabulous' considering Man Ray's stylish portraits of Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli. I always love the NPG's take on the late-night - it offers such a good range of events, whilst maintaining that slight touch of exclusivity and glamour that you just don't find during the day. 

For me, this is a must-see exhibition. It's heading into the final weeks now and will be on until the 27th May. 

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