Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement

Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement

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by Phillip Prodger
     
 

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"Eadweard Muybridge, one of the great pioneer-innovators of the 19th century, is a familiar figure to students of art history, photography, and cinema. Best known for the photographs of horses and other animals in motion that he made in the 1870s and '80s, Muybridge was the first person to use photography to freeze rapid action for analysis and study. He devised a

Overview

"Eadweard Muybridge, one of the great pioneer-innovators of the 19th century, is a familiar figure to students of art history, photography, and cinema. Best known for the photographs of horses and other animals in motion that he made in the 1870s and '80s, Muybridge was the first person to use photography to freeze rapid action for analysis and study. He devised a method for photographing episodes of behavior using a series of cameras, producing some of the most famous sequential photographs ever made. These pictures, the first successful photographs of rapidly moving subjects, revolutionized expectations of what photography could reveal about the natural world, and ultimately led to the invention of the motion picture in the mid-1890s. Time Stands Still is the catalogue that accompanies a major exhibition celebrating Muybridge's fascinating work. Though the instantaneous photography movement stands as a crucial event in the progression of photography to motion pictures, this exhibition represents the first major organized treatment of the subject. Opening in spring 2003 at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University and touring through 2004, it combines an examination of the artist's career in motion photography with a survey of early attempts to photograph moving subjects. Guest curator Phillip Prodger is the primary author of the catalogue, but the book also includes a valuable essay covering cinema's earliest experiments by Tom Gunning, an acknowledged expert on early film from the University of Chicago. The exhibition will display Muybridge's zoopraxiscope and other equipment, drawings, ephemera, and photographs made from the invention ofphotography in the 1830s to the end of Muybridge's career, which culminated with the publication of his encyclopedic work, Animal Locomotion, in 1887. The photographs and objects are drawn largely from the collection of the Cantor Center and are supplemented with a selection of stop-action photographs from other private and public collections. Among those represented will be the work of Talbot, Rejlander, Maray, Eakins, Edison, the Lumiere Freres, and others."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Early photography innovator Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904; he went by an assortment of names and alternative spellings) is primarily known for his photographic series of animals in motion, begun in the 1870s, that led to cinematography. Not a biography, this catalogue to a touring exhibition is instead both a critical overview of Muybridge's aesthetic achievements in photography and an engaging history of the instantaneous photography movement, a set of innovations that swept away the excruciatingly long exposure-times of then-conventional photography, and of which Muybridge's motion studies were a part. St. Louis Art Museum assistant curator Prodger makes an excellent selection of photographs, from the first known "snapshot" of two women in a window (attributed to David E. James & Co., circa 1855) to Muybridge's own famous studies of horse gaits. It is amazing to read about the fierce debates over what constituted an "instant photograph," bringing home how much we take for granted today with our unobtrusive split-second cameras. Muybridge himself remains a mysterious figure, a center of continuing controversy and tall tales, much of it due to the murder of his wife's lover. However, his technological achievements often overshadowed his aesthetic innovations-it is this oversight that this volume seeks to remedy, by definitively repositioning Muybridge's work within the history of photography and of art itself. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Eadweard Muybridge's best-known photography, completed during the 1870s and 1880s, captures the motion of moving people and animals in a series of frames. Difficult to classify, these works fall somewhere between photography and cinema. Prodger's book, which accompanies an exhibition that will travel through 2004, links Muybridge to a loosely associated group of 19th-century photographers he identifies as the "instantaneous photography movement." The author also examines various definitions of instantaneous photography, which involves the instant capture of a natural moment without lengthy film exposure. Prodger (assistant curator, prints, drawings, and photographs, St. Louis Art Museum) is successful in relating Muybridge's work to that of numerous other photographers of the instantaneous movement by analyzing pictorial compositions and comparing photographic techniques. An additional essay by Tom Gunning, a film expert at the University of Chicago, adds illuminating comparisons of Muybridge's work to symbolist painting. Prodger's thoughtful analysis is recommended for academic libraries, while Gordon Hendricks's recently reprinted Eadweard Muybridge: The Father of the Motion Picture is a more general biography suitable for most public libraries.-Eric Linderman, East Cleveland P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Not a biography, this catalogue to a touring exhibition is instead both a critical overview of Muybridge's aesthetic achievements in photography and an engaging history of the instantaneous photography movement.... Prodger makes an excellent selection of photographs, from the first known 'snapshot' of two women in a window to Muybridge's own famous studies of horse gaits.... His technological achievements often overshadowed his aesthetic innovations—it is this oversight that this volume seeks to remedy, by definitively repositioning Muybridge's work within the history of photography and art itself."—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195149647
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/28/2003
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
10.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Phillip Prodger is Assistant Curator at the St. Louis Art Museum.

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Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Holy cow this is a good book. I have read a lot of history of photography books but never one like this. The author shows you fascinating pictures and tells you not just how they were made but *why*. There is an awful lot to think about in this hard to put down book.