Surrealism is an artistic movement and philosophy that first gained popularity in the 1920s. Initially, surrealism was an offshoot of Dadaism, which posited that traditional art should be replaced with anything "anti-art" and triumphed the ridiculous, the absurd, and a basic disregard for form. Andre Breton was the initial proponent of surrealism in literature and the visual arts. Much of his emphasis was on accessing the unconscious, as viewed by psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Surrealism was a reaction to the philosophy of rationalism, which many felt had caused, through the Industrial Revolution, the disaster of World War I.
Surrealsim had a great effect on me because I then realised that the imagery in my mind wasn’t insanity. Surrealsim to me is reality. John Lennon
of the female form - creating a surreal body which takes on the persona of a metal object, silver and unreal .... he makes people look as though their faces are of aluminium. They become sort of sleek and metallic like the mascots on the front of those rather swish, fast cars. They become these super-people, also slightly inhuman, slightly robotic." (Mark Haworth-Booth, Photo-historian) http://www.bbc.co.uk/photography/genius/gallery/ray.shtml
Man Ray sought to create a Surrealist vision of the female form and began to utilize such photographic techniques as solarization, dynamic cropping, over enlargement and over development in an effort to create a dreamlike effect in his artwork.
His use of the Rayograph helped him to create a new, profound look to his photography, stressing the importance of light and shadow rather than the object itself. These camera-less images created by placing objects on light sensitive photographic paper and then exposing the paper to light assisted Man Ray in the creation of his visual poetry.
Links to information on Man ray