Art Term


A photogram is a photographic print made by laying objects onto photographic paper and exposing it to light

The technique of creating photographic prints without using a camera (photograms) is as old as photography itself – but emerged again in various avant-garde contexts in the early 1920s.

Artist Man Ray refined and personalised the technique to such an extent that the new prints eventually carried his name ‘rayographs’.

  • Rayograph

    Photographic prints made by laying objects onto photographic paper and exposing it to light

  • Photography

    Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of light on a light-sensitive material

  • Avant-garde

    As applied to art, avant-garde means art that is innovatory, introducing or exploring new forms or subject matter

explore this term

  • Out of the light, into the shadows

    Jonathan Griffin

    The photogram is an image made without a camera by placing an object directly on to the surface of a light-sensitive material and then exposing it to light. Since the dawn of photography it has been explored by practitioners such as Anna Atkins and Henry Fox Talbot, keen to expand the boundaries of representation. It was a technique much employed by early modernists such as László Moholy-Nagy and György Kepes (the latter’s photograms go on display at Tate Liverpool this spring) and is enjoying something of a revival as seen in the works of Liz Deschenes, Nathaniel Mellors, Walead Beshty and Raphael Hefti

  • Vaporous fantasies

    Nicholas Cullinan

    Before he became famous for his protean work, Robert Rauschenberg was making little-known but beautiful cameraless photograms with his then wife Susan Weil

  • Carved with light

    Sophie Bowness

    We know her best through her sculptures, but one of the many outcomes of Barbara Hepworth's friendship with László Moholy-Nagy was her experiments with photograms. The artist's granddaughter reveals how they came about 

selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection

photogram at tate