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Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement

February 15 - May 16, 2004


The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) presents the second and final venue of Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement, the first major exhibition to comprehensively feature the landmark motion photographs of noted photographer Eadweard Muybridge (American, born British, 1830-1904) and the rise of instantaneous photography. This exhibition will be on view Feb. 15 to May 16, 2004. (left: Eadweard Muybridge (American, born British, 1830-1904), "Occident" Trotting at a 2:30 Gait, 20 June 1887, from the series The Horse in Motion, albumen print (cabinet card), 10.2 x 20.9 cm, Iris & B. Gerald Canton Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford Family Collections, 13927)

This exhibition featuring approximately 170 rare works from institutions in the United States and Europe, assist in placing Muybridge in historic context, by exploring the achievements of this photographer who became the first to successfully captured rapid action for analysis and study. Arranged in 9 thematic sections, this exhibition documents the earliest phase of Muybridge's motion study work (1872-1881), included are early proofs, negatives, slides, related drawings and paintings, an original maquette for Muybrigde's first motion picture projection and a working replica of his zoopraxiscope motion picture projector. The film Animals in Motion, (1968) by John Straiton, a seven minute, 16mm film including colour, sound and animation, courtesy of Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Center (CFMDC) will be on view in the exhibition featuring Muybridge's work. (right: Eadweard Muybridge (American, born British, 1830-1904), Leland Stanford on His Pony Gypsy, 1879, from a series of lantern slides, glass collodion positive, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford Family Collections, 13859)

Examples by Muybridge's predecessors, including photographs and drawings from eastern European collection never before seen in the West, establish context for Muybridge's innovations. Also featured are works by the so-called chronophotgraphers who worked contemporaneously with Muybridge: Oscar Gustave Rejlander (Swedish, active in England c. 1813-75), Thomas Eakins (American, 1844-1916), Etienne-Jules Marey (France, 1830-1904), Ottomar Anschütz (German, 1846-1907) and Albert Londe (1858-1917).

Muybridge was born in England in April 9, 1830 and immigrated to the United States in 1852. He settled in San Francisco. He was a gifted landscape photographer, an inventor and the creator of a revolutionary group of instantaneous photographs. These freeze-frame photos conquered new territory in the 19th-century when Victorian portraits of still, unnatural positions were the norm because of the technology of the time, however that changed when candid photographs of animals in their natural environment, women dancing and men fencing which caught natural movements, were developed by Muybridge. His succession of stopped moments proved that a horse's gallop was different than how painters imagined. The publication of his photographs of horses and other animals in motion brought him international fame and consumed his career. He toured the United States and Europe captivating audiences with shows of animated pictures.

Leland Stanford (American, 1824-1893), who served as California's governor during the Civil War, became a United States senator and president of the Central Pacific Railroad was a major force to stop motion. He wanted to better understand how his racehorses' legs moved when trotting so that he could improve their performance on the track. At his stock farm in Palo Alto, CA (now the site for the Leland Stanford Junior University), he sponsored Muybridge and a team of engineers with the goal of developing a technique of documenting a horse's motion through sequential images. Muybridge did this by building a track and bank of cameras that enabled him to make sequences of images, as seen in the early image of "Occident" Trotting at 2:30 Gait, (1878). His images confirmed that all four hooves simultaneously leave the ground. Because of his association with Muybridge, Stanford University is the repository of a unique collection of original works by Muybridge that revolutionized photography and were essential to the invention of motion pictures. (left: Eadweard Muybridge (American, born British, 1830-1904), Athletes Boxing, 1879, plate 111 from the series Attitudes of Animals in Motion, printing-out paper print, published by Eadweard Muybridge, 1881, 16 x 22.4 cm, Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, RBC.TR140.M93.f.111)

CMA Curator of Photography Tom E. Hinson says, "This pioneering and informative exhibition presents the astonishing achievement of Eadweard Muybridge to photograph events happening too fast to be seen with the human eye. His landmark work is placed within the context of the great interest in the 19th century to use the new medium of photography to create images marked by an unbeknown degree of spontaneity, naturalness and speed of execution."

A gallery in the exhibition Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement will be devoted to non-photography masterworks, some drawn from the Museum's permanent collection. The Cleveland Museum of Art has several works by 19th-century artists who were influenced by Muybridge's motion photographs. The pieces include works by Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917) and Thomas Eakins (American, 1844-1916). These artists, like Muybridge, placed emphasis on the portrayal of spontaneity, liveliness in appearance and a sense of movement, and their works assist in creating a direct relationship between photography and fine art. (right: Eadweard Muybridge (American, born British, 1830-1904), Fancy Dancing (Miss Larrigan), 28 July 1885, plate 187 from the series Animal Locomotion, collotype, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford Family Collections, 1941.1018.70)

This exhibition was organized by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University. The exhibition and catalogue are made possible through the generosity of Carmen Christensen and additional support from The Bernard Osher Foundation and the Cantor Arts Center Members.


Related Programs


Public Lectures:
Sun., Feb. 15, 3:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Free
Dr. Phillip Prodger, guest curator and author of Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement, will lecture on the exhibition and discuss the importance of Muybridge's work.
Sun., Apr. 4, 2 p.m., Lecture Hall, Free
Rebecca Solnit, Muybridge biographer and author of Motion Studies: Time, Space and Eadweard Muybridge, will discuss Muybridge's life and the process of researching her book.
Curatorial Gallery Talk:
Wed., Feb. 25, 6:30 p.m., North Gallery
CMA Curator of Photography Tom E. Hinson gives a free gallery talk in the exhibition.
Exhibition ticket required.
Demonstration and Workshop with Antique Cameras:
Sat., Mar. 13, 2­5 p.m., Interior Garden Court, Free. Tim Ryan, local collector and camera historian will share and discuss his collection of early cameras and their usage. Visitors who bring their cameras will receive a professional examination by Mr. Ryan. This analysis does not include monetary valuation.
Lecture Course History of Photography:
Four Saturdays in Mar., 6, 13, 20, 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Lecture Hall
With CMA educator Seema Rao.
Sat., Mar. 6, The Beginnings of the Medium
Sat., Mar. 13, 19th-Century Masterpieces
Sat., Mar. 20, Early to Mid 20th-Century: the "isms"
Sat., Mar. 27, Post-World War II and Beyond
This course is a chronological survey of the history of photography.
Fee for course.
Gallery Talks:
Sun., Mar. 7, 1:30 p.m., Wed., Mar. 24, 6:30 p.m.,
Fri., Apr. 16, 6:30 p.m. and Fri., May 7, 1:30 p.m., North Gallery
Time Stands Still: Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement with CMA educator Saundy Stemen.
Exhibition ticket required.
Fri., Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 22, at 1:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Free
Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer
(USA, 1974) directed by Thom Andersen.
Documentary on the photographer. 60 min.
Fri., Apr. 2, at 7 p.m., Recital Hall, Free
Imitation of Life and Beyond
Program of American experimental short films selected by New York City filmmaker Ken Jacobs. All use still images to create the illusion of motion, as Muybridge. Program includes David Lebrun's Tanka (1976); Ken Jacobs' Flo Rounds the Corner (2001); Henry Hills' Untitled (2004); and Fred Worden's One (1998). Total 63 min.
Sun., Apr. 25, at 1:30 p.m., Recital Hall, Free
Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
(USA, 1969) This silent film directed by Ken Jacobs includes still images creating the illusion of motion as he explores and excavates a 1905 silent film printed and preserved on paper. 115 min.

Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy a .pdf file provided by Smithsonian American Art Museum regarding its 2007 permanent collection installation of Eadweard Muybridge's photographs of Central America.


TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Eadweard Muybridge: Motion Studies. Eadweard Muybridge was one of the most preeminent and innovative photographers of his day. This computer interactive software contains over 900 plates from his pioneering photographic studies of movement. 1990. 30 min. Video/D 18. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Homage to Eadweard Muybridge. Special feature accompanying the DVD Movies Begin, A Treasury of Early Cinema, 1894-1914; 1. 1994. DVD 1096. Available from Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berk

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format

rev. 12/27/07

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