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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. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"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
I have been drawn to the photographs of Eadweard Muybride since childhood -- the jumping horses, running goats etc. have always fascinated me -- but here the author does much better than simply repeat these incredible photographs. He tells you what happened before Muybridge came on the scene; the incredible struggles and sneaky tricks used to make pictures that looked like motion frozen in time. The book is very easy to read - serious, but written in a breezy style that is very accessible. I would recommend this for any history of photography or cinema student. It goes into depth about things that have really never been studied before. Very provocative, highly educational, and very entertaining.
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