The pioneering British photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) will be the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain
in autumn 2010. Bringing together around 150 works, this exhibition will demonstrate how Muybridge broke new ground in the emerging art form of photography. From his iconic images of animals and humans in motion to depictions of the sublime landscapes and life of the dynamic America of the later nineteenth century, the exhibition will explore the ways in which Muybridge created and honed his remarkable images that continue to resonate powerfully with artists and photographers.
Born in Kingston upon Thames in April 1830, Muybridge studied photography in Britain and built his career in America. Perhaps best known for his extensive photographic portrayal of animals and human subjects in motion, he was also a highly successful landscape and survey photographer, documentary artist, inventor, and war correspondent. Muybridges revolutionary techniques produced timeless images that have profoundly influenced generations of photographers, filmmakers and artists, including Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, and Douglas Gordon.
This broadly chronological exhibition will focus on the period of rapid technological and cultural change from 1870 to 1904. It will include the celebrated early experimental series of motion-capture photographs such as Attitudes of Animals in Motion 1878-1882, and the later sequence Animal Locomotion 1887. It will also consider how Muybridge constructed, manipulated and presented these photographs and will feature his original zoopraxiscope, which projected his images of suspended motion to create the illusion of movement.
Muybridges carefully managed studio photographs contrast with his panoramic landscapes of America, in which he balanced professionalism with a truly artistic sensibility. He was fascinated by change and progress and his photographs caught both the natural beauty of this vast continent, and the rapid colonial modernisation of its towns and cities. The exhibition will include many of his series of images of the Yosemite Valley, including dramatic waterfalls from 1867 and 1872, along with views of Alaska, Guatemala, urban panoramas of San Francisco, and his 1869 survey of the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad in California, Nevada and Utah. These photographs form a unique social document of this fascinating period of history, as well as representing a profound achievement of technological innovation and artistic originality.
Muybridge travelled between Britain, America and Europe throughout his career, studying photography in Britain, and later lecturing around the world. In 1874 while living in San Francisco he shot his wifes lover dead and had her son placed in an orphanage, but was acquitted of the crime as a justifiable homicide, a story retold in Philip Glasss opera The Photographer. He returned to England in 1894, and died at home in Kingston in 1904.
The exhibition is curated by Philip Brookman, Chief Curator, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington and at Tate Britain by Ian Warrell, curator of 18th and 19th century British Art, Tate, and Carolyn Kerr, curator, Tate Britain, and is organised with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington.