Animal Locomotion; Plate 197 (Couple Dancing)
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Many years ago, I was browsing in the Museum of Modern Art's bookstore and came across a French book on motion in photography that had this Muybridge image on the cover. Muybridge is best known for his studies of animals in motion, but he also photographed the human body in motion. I found this image particularly pleasing and very romantic, so I set out to try and buy a print. Calls to all the Muybridge specialists proved fruitless. Trips to galleries and art fairs yielded no leads. Then one day I was at Photo LA and saw a booth with Muybridge prints. The booth owner didn't have it but thought he had seen it in another booth. That booth didn't have it but thought he had seen it in another booth. On and on this went until the last possible booth, where the dealer dug into a stack of gravures and produced the image. I brought the print back home and eventually took it to Washington, D.C., for my friend David Adamson to scan so I would always have a copy and could in fact sell reproductions if I wanted to. (Anything published before 1923 is in the public domain, so there are no copyright issues.) After misplacing the print and finally finding it again, it's now back in the gallery. After what must be at least a seven-or-eight-year odyssey from first seeing the image in a book, clearly the only solution is to get it framed and hang it on the wall. I am reproducing this image so that others may enjoy this print as I do, and as a tribute to Muybridge's contributions to stop-motion photography. It's also going to be my go-to wedding present for friends embarking on married life! — James Danziger
Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904) was an English-born pioneer in photographing motion and in motion-picture projection. An eccentric man who used several aliases—Helios, The Flying Studio; several variants of his birth name, Edward Muggeridge—he first received worldwide acclaim with his landscape photographs of Yosemite Valley, which he developed from large negatives in a mule-driven darkroom.
Muybridge is most remembered for his contributions to the understanding of human and animal locomotion. In 1872, he was hired by railroad magnate Leland Stanford to find the answer to a popular question of the time: whether or not all four of a horse’s hooves leave the ground during a gallop. Muybridge determined the answer by utilizing a series of large cameras. He repeated this practice of stop-motion photography with other animals and people, in effect preceding motion pictures and modern cinema.
Muybridge bequeathed his equipment, including his Zoopraxiscope projector, to the Kingston Museum in Kingston upon Thames, in southwest London. His works are part of the collections of such major institutions as the Smithsonian. Additionally, a large collection of his photographs and correspondence are in the archives at the University of Pennsylvania. A major exhibition of his works, entitled Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, was held in 2010 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and at the Tate Britain in Millbank, London. The exhibition then went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from February 26 through June 7, 2011.
His artistic legacy influenced such artists as Marcel Duchamp and Francis Bacon, while many of his photographic sequences have inspired cartoonists and filmmakers—Muybridge is referred to as the Father of the Motion Picture. Muybridge’s personal life was also fodder for original works by poets, composers and playwrights.