Art that Outruns Mere Horses

When you hear the name Eadweard Muybridge, the first thing that probably comes to mind is horses. Because he's known for that - getting the stop-motion photographs of horses that for the first time let us see and track their locomotive patterns. And no small task it was, because it also was the first step toward motion pictures. But what you might not know about Muybridge is he was an innovator during his entire career. He was interested in science and business as well as aesthetics, pushing the limits of photography to lay the groundwork for much of what we take for granted today. The exhibit, "Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change," contains some 300 pieces from Muybridge dated 1858 to 1893, tracing the various stages of his complex and multifaceted career in a concise way that continually holds the viewer's interest. Curator Philip Brookman of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has divided a third-floor area into multiple spaces, each explaining and depicting various stages of Muybridge's creative and technical development. Photographs line the walls while a number of artifacts - including letters, periodicals, and one of Muybridge's inventions (the praxinoscope) - occupy cases at the centers of the rooms. Outlined at the beginning of each section are the geographical regions, time span, and subject matter of the work contained within. At the end of the exibit the viewer is left with three distinct impressions: natural landscape, urban setting, and stop-motion photography. These, generally, define the three stages of Muybridge's career. The curator has created sections different enough to prevent the "photo blindness" that can come with photography exhibits that are also interesting enough to make the viewer want to know what's next - and then double back later to see how the pieces interrelate.
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 26. Continues through June 7, 2011

 
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