Photobooth portraits of Surrealist artists from the 1920s recreated in Play-Doh

Original photograph: Salvador Dali, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair. All images courtesy of the artist and gallery.

When the first photo booth, or 'Photomaton', opened for business at Luna Park in Paris in the late 1920s, André Breton, the "father of the Surrealism", and his circle of artistic friends were among its most enraptured users.

Returning frequently, their self-portraits show them not as untouchable artworld legends but as fallible human beings joining in with the latest social craze.

Though usually treated as throwaway, these black-and-white photo booth portraits have survived today. In homage to the spirit of Surrealism, nine of these portraits have been rendered in Play-Doh by Eleanor Macnair.

You can see her reimagined, large-scale technicolour portraits at an exhibition at London's Elephant West gallery from 22 November until 5 January 2020.

Featuring André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Suzanne Muzard, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Yves Tanguy, Jacques André Boiffard and Marie-Berthe Aurenche, each plasticine portrait has gigantic Play-Doh eyes and all the little details of what each artist was wearing.

"I have a simple, naïve love of photography and I hope this is reflected in this series. It’s my strange tribute to photography," says Macnair. "I like the idea of a Chinese whisper through time… from the original subject of the photograph, the photographer’s print, a digital file on the Internet, a Play-Doh model on my table, my digital file on the Internet and now the works on a gallery wall. What is lost and what remains?"

Original photograph: André Breton, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1928-1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: André Breton, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1928-1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Paul Nougé self-portrait in photomaton, 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Paul Nougé self-portrait in photomaton, 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Yves Tanguy, self-portrait in a photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Yves Tanguy, self-portrait in a photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Jacques-Andre Boiffard, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Jacques-Andre Boiffard, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Paul Eluard, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Paul Eluard, self-portrait in photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Suzanne Muzard, self-portrait in photomaton, c 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Suzanne Muzard, self-portrait in photomaton, c 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Marie-Berthe Aurenche self-portrait in photomaton, 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Marie-Berthe Aurenche self-portrait in photomaton, 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Louis Aragon, self-portrait in a photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair

Original photograph: Louis Aragon, self-portrait in a photomaton c. 1929 rendered in Play-Doh © Eleanor Macnair