The Ohio State University owns copy number 3 of a limited edition portfolio of Man Ray’s prints, Champs délicieux: album de photographies (1922). This was a 1969 gift of David Howald Shawn, in memory of his great-uncle, Ferdinand Howald. Howald, of Columbus, Ohio acquired an impressive collection of Modern paintings, of which a significant number were donated to the Columbus Museum of Art (then the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts). Howald also provided financial support to Man Ray during his early years in Paris. In return for that patronage he selected works of his choice from Man Ray’s production. It is not clear exactly how the portfolio came into the possession of the art collector, but this selection of photographs, and the letters written by Man Ray to Howald remained in the family until donated to OSU.
Each copy of the portfolio contains his own photographic reproductions of a selection of “rayographs,” images made on photo-sensitive paper without the use of a camera (photograms). Man Ray’s illusions of space, texture, translucency and opaqueness in these works have served as an inspiration to photography students, who often try their own hand at this process.
Man Ray describes the project briefly in a letter to Howald dated May 28, 1922. Excerpts are provided below. ( I also include his comments about the more abstract quality of some of his paintings at that time, and mention of his new friends.)