Kingston’s Muybridge Portal is launched

Congratulations to all concerned on the new  web portal Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities, which was successfully launched yesterday at the BFI South Bank in London.

This unique website, the result of an ongoing collaboration between Kingston University and Kingston Museum in the United Kingdom, aims to provide a definitive research resource surrounding the work of 19th Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Here you can find an introduction to Muybridge’s works in historical and social context; and information on the international collections that house them.

More about the related symposium, soon.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge Yosemite

Sylvan Bar. Valley of the Yosemite

Photographer: Muybridge. Publisher: Bradley & Rulofson
(Online Archive of California web site: Valley of the Yosemite by Eadweard Muybridge, 1872.)

Click to enlarge. It’s beautiful.

Blog posts featuring Muybridge and his work vary greatly in quality, and most are not too interesting, but one in ten makes up for this. My favourite entry this month is on a blog by “Jeff” (that’s the only name I can find at present): SECONDAT:  “You have to study a great deal to know a little.” Pensees et Fragments Inedits de Montesquieu.

Muybridge Yosemite
In which I celebrate family and friends.

A few months back my sister sent me Rebecca Solnit’s River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. We both like taking pictures and both admire good photography. She thought I’d like the book and she was right. I thought at first I might find it tedious since I’m not particularly interested in the stop-action photos for which Muybridge is famous (and which he pioneered). But Solnit is an excellent critic, she writes well, and, I was pleased to discover, a lot of the photography is aesthetically more appealing than the motion studies. For Muybridge, it turns out, made many images of places and people in the “Wild West” of Solnit’s subtitle. Some of these, as she says, are not only innovative and technically ept, but also strikingly beautiful. The book’s frustration is that it describes but does not show this beauty. The few photographs that it contains are, in my Penguin paperback copy, dreadfully reproduced.

Enter my friend John. He noticed that the Corcoran Gallery here in Washington DC has mounted a very large exhibit of Muybridge’s work: Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. It’s on view through July 18, 2010. ….When John said what he would be going, I asked if the show included any of the (reputedly) great Yosemite photos and when he said it did I leapt at the opportunity to join him on a visit there this past weekend. I wasn’t disappointed. There were room after room of stereographs along with many medium-format and mammoth-plate images, lots of them from Yosemite.

I particularly wanted to see the mammoth-plate ones. They’re big, as the name suggests: each at least 17 inches high and 21.5 inches wide. As are all his photos, they’re also direct images from the photo plates — contact prints rather than enlargements.

Muybridge observed the general design principles then common, including fore-, mid-, and background elements to convey a sense of depth, but, unlike others, he would show debris in foreground — flotsom, fallen limbs, brush, stream-wash, and the like.

This aspect of Muybridge’s landscape work was first brought to my attention some fifteen years ago by the then Curator of Kingston Museum, Paul Hill. Paul had developed a perceptive appreciation of the Yosemite photographs despite being limited almost entirely to viewing only reproductions, mostly of quite poor quality, and his enthusiasm for them dragged me away from the Zoopraxiscope material for just long enough to make a mental note to investigate further. That didn’t really happen, which is one reason I’m looking forward to the Tate Britain’s “Helios” exhibition later this summer – a unique opportunity to wallow in Muybridge landscapes.

Jeff’s blog entry is well worth a visit, with informed comments on several specific Yosemite images by Muybridge, and some by other image-makers.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Robert Bartlett Haas dies at 94


Robert Bartlett Haas dies at 94
By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times

May 18, 2010,0,235770.story

Robert Bartlett Haas, a longtime UCLA educator who spent years immersed in the writings of Gertrude Stein, has died. He was 94.

Haas died April 20 in a hospital in Nuertingen, Germany, after a brief illness, said his son, Peter. He had spent most of his retirement years in Germany.

Haas was born Jan. 20, 1916, in Santa Cruz. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley in 1938, a master’s in English from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in education from Stanford.

He joined the UCLA faculty in 1949 and was the founding director of the school’s arts and humanities extension division. Peter Haas said the program was envisioned as a way for teachers to broaden their skills with additional courses on a variety of subjects. Haas stayed with the program until his retirement in the late 1970s.

Haas “was one of the young men who sought out Gertrude Stein as a mentor and was rewarded with years of encouragement and friendship and who, in turn, devoted a measure of his academic life to bolstering Stein’s reputation,” Timothy Young, curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, told The Times in an e-mail. Young cataloged Stein’s papers at Yale.

“My dad was a very complex guy,” Peter Haas said. “He was kind of a little avant-garde, and Gertrude Stein was certainly an avant-garde poet.” Among his books about Stein was “A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein,” published in 1971, in which he is credited as editor.

Our own subject gets just a one-line mention in the Los Angeles Times obituary:

Haas also wrote a 1976 biography of pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge, “Muybridge: Man in Motion,” and edited “William Grant Still and the Fusion of Cultures in American Music,” a 1972 book about an African American composer and conductor.

Hass is also survived by another son, Robin, and longtime partner Ia Wech. His first wife, Louise Krause Haas, died in 1982, and a second marriage ended in divorce.

Robert Haas worked on his Eadweard Muybridge book for more than two decades. “Muybridge: Man in Motion,” and Gordon Hendricks’ biography of Muybridge, are still key references for historians working today.

Robert Bartlett Haas donated his Muybridge-related research papers and notes to Kingston Museum, UK, where they may be accessed by prior arrangement.

Scientific Movement on Luminous Lint

A selection of 54 images concerning scientific movement, each one meticulously captioned, has been posted by Alan Griffiths on his Luminous Lint website:

Scientific Movement

The study of movement through a sequence of successive still photographs was the foundation of cinema. It is a strange coincidence that two of the photographers whose research on the movement of animals and humans were born and died in the same years – Étienne Jules Marey ( 1830-1904) in France and Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) in the UK. Their innovations of multiple cameras, multiple images on single plates and improved shutters had enormous implications for physiology, medicine, sports and art where animal movement could now be shown with scientific accuracy for the first time. There were other scientists who should not be overlooked Ottomar Anschütz (1846-1907), Arthur Clive Banfield (1875-1965), Prof. A.M. Worthington, Ernst Mach, the Bragaglia brothers in Italy, the researchers into efficient workflows Frank B. and Lillian Gilbreth and Harold E. Edgerton (1903-1990) whose mastery of the stroboscopic flash captured multiple moments on a single frame.

Although the majority of the photographs in this exhibition created were for scientific purposes the influence they had on the art world was enormous. Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) saw the implications early on and without their inspirational images Marcel Duchamp’s oil painting Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) could not have been created. That work itself led to Eliot Eliofson’s wonderful photograph for Life Magazine (1952) of Duchamp descending a staircase.

This fine selection of 19th and 20th-century work serves as a good introduction to the variety of images produced by various chronophotographic methods.

Luminous Lint is a massive and impressively well organised website ‘for Collectors and Connoisseurs of Fine Photography’, featuring more than 6,000 photographers and over 28,000 images.

Don’t forget to visit The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge