Both Man Ray and Max Ernst were leading figures in the European Dada and Surrealist groups, early twentieth-century movements that challenged social and artistic conventions by introducing surprising juxtapositions and chance. Man Ray often favored photographic processes that involved an element of unpredictability.
He used the Sabattier effect—more commonly known as solarization—to make this distinctive photograph of Max Ernst. Discovered in 1862 by Armand Sabattier, the process involves exposing a partially developed image to a brief flash of light. The result is a partial reversal of tone that makes portions of the print appear negative.