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Man Ray Human Equation Essay

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Introduction If you’re thinking, “Human Equations? Does that mean a bunch of people got together and formed equations with their body?”, you might want to pause and think about how you got yourself in this situation. If you’re thinking, “Human Equations! Weren’t they done by famous photographer Man Ray?”, you’re on the right track, but not quite there yet. Formally known as Shakespearean Equations, the Human Equations are a series of paintings where artistic practice meets mathematical puzzles, human bodies, and merciless romanticism of Shakespeare.
Man Ray’s Human Equations are not arranged chronologically; but instead, follow a structure similar to that of three acts in a play. It shows the full artistic range and scope of Man Ray’s work, from his juvenilia to his late production, and three overarching themes focus on the material synergy between the works. 14 paintings from
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The viewer sees King Lear’s famous “tears speech” depicted “by means of a diluted pigment dripping down the canvas” and even suspects that this “presumably fortuitous effect provided inspiration for the choice of title”(Duggin). You can see Man Ray’s affixing of the canvas to a large wooden hoop—“a geometric figure known to mathematicians as a Kummer surface”—as the artist’s attempt to turn the work into a three-dimensional object that, like so much of his work, defies easy categorization and belies a common perception that his canvases from this series were simply literal. In essence, Man Ray’s King Lear shows off his mathematical knowledge in the name of artistic independence, all, of course, while depending on a Shakespearean allusion—a paradox neatly holding together right before your eyes (Duggin). As much as you try to solve the puzzle, the puzzle remains bigger and more powerful than any single answer, making this exhibition both frustrating and
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