When you hear the name Eadweard Muybridge, the first thing that probably comes to mind is horses. Because Muybridge is 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.
Muybridge learned from the great landscape painters that came before him and later inspired not only West Coast photographers such as Ansel Adams but also European artists including Edward Degas. The exhibit that opens Saturday at the SFMOMA, “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change,” traces the various stages of his complex and multifaceted career in a concise way that continually holds the viewer's interest.