Gorgeous Double-Exposure Shots by Famous Photographers [NSFW]

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Tired of multiple-exposure photography? Once, before it was a trend, it was a brand new technique, a parlor trick for “spirit photography” and an invitation to experimentation. We’ve dug up a few of these early successes and plucked particularly interesting takes by famous photographers. From Man Ray’s kaleidoscopic nudes to a surreal, polymeliac portrait of Jean Cocteau to Lewis Carroll’s strange little daydream — see a few noteworthy double-exposures in our gallery. Did we mention the nudes?

With all the focused intensity of his clean, dramatically-lit portraits of artists, flowers and folded body parts, it’s its own perfect thing, but the visual metaphor in Robert Mapplethorpe’s Hand In Fire (1985) isn’t exactly subtle. Do not attempt at home. You’re risking hockeyness.

Man Ray’s double exposure experiments yielded this lovely specimen, Demain (1932). Scandalous. Beautiful. Cartoonishly hypersexualized, but beautiful. Just be glad it’s not a rayograph.

Photographer Philippe Halsman took that famous Salvador-Dalí-in-a-flurry-of-flying-cats-and-frozen-water photograph. Here’s his immaculately crafted portrait of Jean Cocteau. Celebrity photographs were so much cooler in the old days.

Speaking of un-subtleties…Ukrainian-born photographer Boris Mikhailov of the infamous Case History series has always had a great sense of humor, comfortably leaning towards the naughty. Here’s a particularly vibrant one from his Yesterday’s Sandwich (1960-1970) series.

Claude Cahun’s Que Me Veux-Tu? (What Do You Want From Me?) (1928) is replete with subtext. Born Lucy Schwob, her portraiture explored her dual, fluid-gendered identity. This self-portrait is particularly iconic and, of course, all analog. Precision!

Gjon Mili travelled the world as a freelancer for Life. He also worked with an MIT professor to pioneer the photographic use of stroboscopic instruments, capturing so much more than double-exposure. Many of his innovative works look like an unfurled zoetrope, charged and emotive. And just look at Picasso’s light graffiti moves!

Photographer Duane Michals’ episodic and captioned photo works tell a story. This one is about a Violent Women (1982), because human emotion is a many layered thing.

German photographer Edmund Kesting shot this photograph of dancer Dean Goodelle in 1932, before the cheesy “picture within a picture” ’70s television came and ruined it all.

Germaine Krull was a particularly liberated female photographer of the early 20th century. Publicité Pour Paul Poiret (1926) is like a peek into her life. Bit of a Metropolis feel, no?

If there’s anything slightly creepier than Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll’s hobbyist portrait series of sleeping little girls, it’s this striking portrait of a sleeping little girl and her ghost-double collaborating on her own murder.