Term derived from the word for ‘ray’ (Rus. luch), used to refer to an abstract style of painting developed by the Russian artist Mikhail Larionov. These included Glass: Rayist Method (New York, Guggenheim) and Rayist Sausage and Mackerel (Cologne, Mus. Ludwig). In 1913 Larionov began to expound and elaborate his theory in a series of manifestos.
Initially the theory of Rayism was fairly simple. Larionov declared that when light rays are reflected from the surface of an object they intersect each other, creating ‘intangible spatial forms’ that the artist is able to paint. Early works such as Glass: Rayist Method expound the first stage of this theory, where objects reflect bold clusters of light rays that shatter and fragment the picture space. By the summer of 1913 Larionov was prepared to abolish the object from the picture altogether. His manifesto Luchizm (1913) argues for a ‘non-objective approach’ to art, and his paintings and drawings began to depict only the reflected rays and the shifting planes created by their intersection.