Revisionist history often shows those who were previously considered crazy as geniuses after their ideas bore fruit. Eadweard Muybridge, inscrutably eccentric, fell into this category with his photo arrays that presaged the era of motion pictures. Wessel + O’Connor Fine Arts feature the talented Englishman in their latest gallery.
Muybridge (1830-1904) came to America at the age of 21 and worked with Carlton Watkins in San Francisco, taking some of the earliest pictures of Yosemite National Park. He gained widespread notoriety when he was tried and then acquitted of the murder of his wife’s lover.
In order to settle a $25,000. wager, Muybridge was hired by wealthy California racehorse owner (and former Governor) Leland Stanford to produce photographic evidence that, while a horse was running, all four of it’s legs left the ground at some point. He proved this by devising a series of 12 cameras with trip wires that were triggered when the horse ran past. This would take many years to accomplish but would inspire him to then create the extraordinary body of work for which he is best known today.
Wanting to further explore the innovations he had realized, Muybridge spent three years in Philadelphia; using as many as 48 separate cameras to record men, women, children and animals performing simple tasks like walking, running, and jumping. The gallery will present a selection from each of these categories.
Published in 1887 as “Animal Locomotion, An electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of Animal movements, 1872 – 1885,” this body of 781 unique studies was collected by the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the artist Augustus Saint Gaudens, President Ulysses S. Grant as well as the Emperor of China.
Muybridge will conclude Jan. 29th, 2017.
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