Muybridge (all over) Kingston

The Muybridge in Kingston project is currently inescapable in the old photographer’s home town. The Muybridge Revolutions exhibition (original lantern slides and motion discs) at the Museum continues until 12 February, with ongoing lectures.

Barkman Computers in the High Street – Muybridge’s childhood home, just across the street from the Coronation Stone – has a large window display, and in the Rose Theatre next door some of Trevor Appleson’s large colour photographs of human movement/activity are being shown. In the evenings, there are spectacular Nocturnal Projections (18 Sept – 11 Feb).

A few yards down the road at the Market Square, the ancient Market House recently housed a display of local children’s artwork inspired by the old photographer’s sequences of people in motion. As well as single-phase drawings of people in motion and photo-sequences for animating in mini cardboard zoetropes, the children made their own versions of the commemorative plaque that’s on Muybridge’s original house, with details of how they would like to be remembered – from the inevitable “league footballer” to “auther”. (More about the children’s work in a later post.)

This artwork was also in one of the rooms at the Stanley Picker Gallery.

Also at the Stanley Picker, is Appleson’s Dance of Ordinariness“an ambitious new moving-image and photographic work inspired by Muybridge’s famous collotype sequences of human figures. As part of a residency at The London Contemporary Dance School, the artist has invited dancers to reinterpret gestures and actions that relate to the various visual narratives that Muybridge himself built into his original motion studies”. The multi-screen presentation echoes the multiple-view format of the Animal Locomotion plates. One sequence shows water flowing from a mop in slow motion – the effect half-way between Muybridge’s time-frozen water in a similar scene, and watching this happen in real time –  allowing us to see (as in Muybridge’s published collotype sequence) the detail in the water’s movement, at the same time that the synthesized motion is being presented.

The exhibition runs until 13 November, with Becky Beasley’s exhibition following from 24 November.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert.

Children’s artwork, and workshop photograph, reproduced by kind permission of Natalie Kay, Education Coordinator for the Stanley Picker Gallery.

Muybridge chairs

From the web:

“Mike Kann of Studio801 created the Muybridge Chair (Gallop Series), which were recently exhibited during the London Design Festival at Designersblock.

Inspired by the animal study photography of Eadweard J. Muybridge (known primarily for his pioneering work with the use of multiple cameras to capture motion), Gallop are a range of chairs resembling the gait of a horse. The chair legs were influenced by sketching from the famous frames of movement of horses galloping as captured by Muybridge.

Made of Scottish birch and clear acrylic, these two examples (No. 6 and No. 2) from the Gallop range (other ranges include Jump and Canter) show the two extremes of this motion — from fully outstretched to mid-gallop with all legs lifted from the floor.”

Not the first Muybridge chair to have been noted on this blog/website: here’s a different concept from a while back by Richard Hutten, Time has transformed into furniture.

Muybridge chair by Richard Hutten

Muybridge, blue chair is the title of this painting by Christopher Rj. Worth, illustrated on his website Beyond The Post and Lintel.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Setting Time in Motion

Now here’s a treat – a preview of the short video made by Chocolate Films, for the Muybridge Revolutions exhibition at Kingston Museum.

“Chocolate Films is an award-winning video production company specialising in documentaries. We produce high quality films for cinema, television, commercial and community clients. Founded as a not-for-profit enterprise, we combine our commercial work with courses and projects, which enable children, young people and community groups to make films.”

Check out the video on their new website.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Alice Simpson: somersaulting figures

Alice Simpson, whose Artist Book, “Bird” appears on The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge website [go here and then scroll down], has kindly sent some photographs of her other Muybridge-related work, in which she references his somersaulting figures. The first is another artist book, the others are ceramics. Enjoy.

Unique Artist Book
Size: 7 1/2” x 5 1/2” x 40” open
Structure: Accordion fold in box with inset label
Materials: Collage, spackle, acrylic, bees wax,
metal punch letters, Japanese  papers
Historical images by Eadweard Muybridge (c.1884)
Poetry: Pablo Neruda (Chile 1904-1973)

I asked of everything if it had
something more,
something more than shape and form,
and I learned that way that nothing is empty–
everything is a box, a train, a boat
loaded with implications,
every foot that walked along a path
left a telegram written in the stone,
and clothes in the washing water
dripped out their whole existence…

Pablo Neruda
from Fully Empowered
Translated by Alastair Reid

12″ H x 16″ W
Stoneware with glaze and oxide

In ‘Reading Lolita in Teheran,’  author, Azar Nafisi, writes about Nabokov’s ‘Invitation to a Beheading’ in which he created the word “…an upsilamba, becoming a bird or catapult with wondrous consequences.”

Alice writes: “Eadweard Muybridge images of somersaulting figures frequently catapult through my books, art and sculptures.”

16” H x 12” W
Glazed porcelain

Five sculptures in motion. Glazed stoneware
From 9.5” to 16.5” H

BETWEEN CLAY AND BOOKS and SOMERSAULT were also inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic  images of somersaulting figures

A L I C E   S I M P S O N
C L A Y & B O O K S

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Animal Locomotion: Award of Honor 1893


World's Fair Chicago 1893 Award

Courtesy Deac Rossell

I recently stumbled across this certificate, illustrated in Homer Croy’s book 1918 book How Motion Pictures Are Made.
It was awarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the Award Commission of the 1893 Columbian Exposition at Chicago:

‘AWARD. For the extent and scientific importance of the collection. The photographs made by Mr. Edward Muybridge, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show with great elaboration and precision the locomotion and movements of animals, including man.’

Miriam Hauss of the AGHA gives some details of the Exposition, from The Book of the Fair, by Hubert Howe Bancroft:


Eight hundred fifty-two judges were divided into committees, which then judged divisions and departments. The awards highlighted “the development of the resources of the United States and the progress of the civilization in the New World, as compared with all participating nations.” Each winner received the diploma of honor (the certificate) and a bronze medal, both prepared under the direction of the United States Secretary of the Treasury and designed by William Low, who was also the designer for most of the fresco work at the Exposition. The diploma was meant as a certificate of identification and the medal as a memento of success. To avoid complaints about favoritism, all the bronze medals were alike except for the engraving of the name of the exhibitor.

During the 179 days of the fair, Hubert H. Bancroft reports that 27,529,400 persons attended the fair, the largest attendance for a world’s fair up to that date. In additional there were 65,422 individual exhibitors. As was the custom, exhibitors at the fair were given awards; however this fair’s awards were non-competitive, “granted upon specific points of excellence or advancement formulated in words” rather than for exhibit design. At the Chicago fair, 36 percent of exhibitors won an award, or 21,000 exhibitors receiving 23,757 awards. Bancroft comments that this is far less than at previous world’s fairs: Vienna, in 1873, awarded 26,000 among 42,000 exhibitors (62 percent ), 42 percent won medals at Philadelphia in 1876, and 55 percent were honored at Paris in 1889.

Midway Plaisance, with the Zoopraxographical Hall centre left


Muybridge’s biographer Robert Bartlett Haas mentions the Award, and notes that the certificate is in the [Kingston] Scrapbook, but I don’t think it is; perhaps he read about it in a cutting there. It could have been with the University when Croy – occasional screenwriter, biographer, and author of books about life in the Midwestern United States – saw it. Maybe it’s there still.

From the website of the American Historical Association (the AHA also gained a prize) we learn that the Certificate was large, measuring 24.5 inches high and 19 inches wide. It shows Columbus with the “races of the world” underneath Columbia pointing the way to the White City of the fair. That dark blob on which the figure top left is leaning, is a bison.

The same book describes the animal locomotion exhibits:

Zoopraxiscopic hall is the building of formidable name in which are given illustrated lectures on animal locomotion as applied to art. The discourses and the pictures are both entertaining and instructive, and through them one may learn surprising facts as to animals in motion and the positions which they assume. Investigation in this line is a speciality which has been pursued within comparatively recent years, among the most prominent of those who have engaged in it being Ottomar Anschuetz, of Lissa, Prussia, whose tachyscopes are exhibited in the electricity building, and Eadmund Maybridge (sic!), who displays some of his results in the hall on the plaisance. With photographic apparatus so perfected that an exposure of one ten-thousandth part of a second is sufficient for a truthful impression, the labors of such men have been prolific as results. The step of a man in the act of walking has been photographed at various points of motion, as well as the jumping and galloping of a horse, the climbing of a monkey, and the flight of a bird, with its motions upon the ground. Thus long established ideas which have obtained even among the most observant artists have been corrected, these investigations being of interest and value to the scientist as well as to the world of art.

THE BOOK OF THE FAIR, by Hubert Howe Bancroft

(Chicago, San Francisco : The Bancroft Company, 1893)

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Lankester: The Problem of the Galloping Horse

Ray Lankester by Leslie Ward, Vanity Fair, 1905

One of Muybridge’s fellow speakers on the lecturing circuit in the late 1880s was zoologist E. Ray Lankester (1847-1929), at that time Jodrell Professor of Zoology at University College London. Influential as a teacher and writer on biological theories, comparative anatomy, and evolution, he would be knighted in 1907.

In 1889, Lankester had written a review of Animal Locomotion in Nature. Ray Lankester was an important writer of popular science, his weekly newspaper columns over many years being assembled and reprinted in a series of books entitled Science from an Easy Chair (first series, 1910; second series, 1912). With such attention-grabbing page headers as “Drowning in a Dead Whale’s Heart” the books were aimed at a general popular readership, but Lankester was a well-educated scientist and the contents respectably reliable.

One of these articles (2nd series) was entitled ‘The Problem of the Galloping Horse’, and originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph (date unknown, but some time between 1907 and 1912.) Writers have usually dealt with the subject using a phrase such as “before Muybridge’s photographs, artists had depicted the galloping horse in a ‘rocking horse’ pose, with all four legs widely spread…” but Lankester’s detailed account shows that the story is not that simple.

The “flying gallop”
Lankester writes of Muybridge’s experiments in sequence photography of moving animals: “I have some of these pictures before me now. They show what has been drawn by artists and called the “flying gallop,” in which the legs are fully extended and all feet are off the ground, with the hind hoofs turned upwards, never occurs at all in the galloping horse, nor anything in the least like it.” He reveals that a model showing the “actual instantaneous attitude of the galloping horse has recently been placed in the Natural History Museum.” Until 1907 Lankester was Director of the Museum, so quite likely he was instrumental in that display. Ironically, in the 21st century some museums are still creating displays in which the legs of animals in motion are incorrectly shown.

The story that French academic painter Meissonier adapted his representations of a horse in motion when re-painting one of his pictures after seeing Muybridge’s photographs is well known (and comes from Muybridge himself). The story was reported in May 1887. However, Muybridge’s biographer Hendricks points out that the differences in the two versions of the painting, in terms of the gait of the horses, is very minor. Lankester focuses his attention on a painting by another artist, produced the previous year.

Rezonville (copy, after Morot)

An epoch-making picture
“As early as 1886 a French painter, M. Aimé Morot, availed himself of the information afforded by the then quite novel instantaneous photographs of the galloping horse, and exhibited a picture of the cavalry fight at Rezonville between the French and Germans, in which the old flying gallop does not appear, but the attitudes of the horses are those revealed in the new photographs. The picture is an epoch-making one, whether justifiable or not, and is now in the gallery of the Luxembourg.”

Morot, cover of L’Illustration, 1905

Aimé Morot (1850-1913) was a French painter born in Nancy, where he studied under a drawing master named Thierry. He later attended the atelier of Alexandre Cabanel in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but left after only two weeks to continue his studies independently. During this period he spent much of his time studying animals in the Jardin des plantes, and was later to become famous for his paintings of horses, lions and bulls.

Muybridge included slides of several Morot paintings – including one titled Rezonville and another of the Battle of Reischoffen – in at least one of his lecture scripts, and the slides are today in the Kingston Museum Collection. These are 1880s paintings (the latter 1887) so would have been included in Muybridge’s later lectures – and one of them was shown to accompany his comment: “It is gratifying to ascertain that our labors are beginning to reap their reward, and that some artists are prepared to acknowledge that impression before knowledge and impression after knowledge are two entirely different things. In this picture by Aimé Morot we have an evidence of the soul[‘]s awakening.” [3] Morot’s early rendition of the correct attitude of the horse in gallop is mentioned in art history books, but I don’t remember reading about it in books or articles about Muybridge’s work.

Two questions
From his easy chair, Lankester continues: “Two very interesting questions arise in connection with the discovery of instantaneous photography of the actual positions successively taken up by the legs of a galloping horse.

The first is one of historical and psychological importance, viz. why and when did artists adopt the false but generally accepted attitude of the “flying gallop”?

The second is psychological and also physiological, viz. if we admit that the true instantaneous phases of the horse’s gallop (or of any other rapid movement of anything) can not be seen separately by the human eye, but can only be separated by instantaneous photography, ought an artist introduce into a picture, which is not intended to serve merely as a scientific diagram, an appearance which has no actual existence so far as his or other human eyes are concerned….? And further, if he ought not to do this, what ought he to do…?

Lankester notes that the first question has been answered by French writer Solomon Reinach, who shows that – “in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, medieval, and modern art up to the end of the 18th century ‘the flying gallop’ does not appear at all!” [2]

English: “Baronet, 1794” oil on Canvas, location: Yale Center for British Art, Hartford, Connecticut, USA.

The first ‘modern’ example of “the flying gallop”
He suggests that the first ‘modern’ example is an engraving by Stubbs in 1794 of a horse called Baronet.

“The essential points about ‘the flying gallop’ are that the fore-limbs are fully stretched forward, the hind limbs fully stretched backward, and that the flat surfaces of the hinder hoofs are facing upwards.” [my italics]

Derby d’Epsom (detail)

Derby D’Epsom
Lankester then states that following Stubbs’ example this attitude was generally adopted in English art, and the French painter Gericault introduced it into France in 1821 with “Derby D’Epsom” which is now in the Louvre.

Science from an Easy Chair (2nd series)

Three types of pose
Lankester outlines three types of poses for the running horse in art, used for centuries previous to the “flying gallop”. He continues:

“The reader will perhaps now suppose that we must attribute the ‘flying gallop’ to the original, if inaccurate, genius of an eighteenth-century English horse painter. That, however, is not the case. M. Reinach has shown that it has a much more extraordinary history. It is neither more nor less than the fact that in the pre-Homeric art of Greece – that which is called ‘Mycenaean’ …the figures of animals, horses, deer, bulls,…dogs, lions and griffins, in the exact conventional pose of “The flying gallop,” are quite abundant!”

The break in tradition
Lankester notes that 37 centuries passed between the original use of the “flying gallop” and its re-introduction in the late 18th-century, and then asks:

“How did the Mycaeneans come to invent, or at any rate adopt, the convention of ‘the flying gallop’, seeing that it does not truly represent either the fact or the appearance of a galloping horse?”

Figure 5 is from a Muybridge photograph

The galloping dog easier to see
“The ‘flying gallop’, with all four legs stretched, and the under surface of the hind feet turned, is really seen by us all every day in the dog, and is recorded in instantaneous photographs of that animal at full speed. … It is easy to see the ‘flying gallop’ in the case of the dog, since the dog does not travel so fast as the galloping horse… It is probable that the dog’s gallop was transferred, so to speak, to the horse by artists… But it is a totally different thing from the gallop of the horse…”

The big question
Lankester then goes on to ask the other big question, “How then… ought an artist to represent a galloping horse?” – and deals with that contentious question at some length. He concludes that “The painter … would be wrong to select any one of the dozen or more poses of the galloping horse published by Muybridge, each limited to the fortieth of a second, since no human eye can fix (as the camera can) separate pictures….”

This contribution by Sir Ray Lankester, and his acknowledgements to Solomon Reinach, don’t seem to have attracted much attention by Muybridge’s biographers or more recent writers on the subject. Historians of photography are not perhaps inclined to seek out popular science books to study their subject.

The “flying gallop” – just one of several gaits that artists have represented differently through the ages, and all dealt with by Muybridge – is perhaps less interesting to us than it was to artists in Muybridge’s time, as we are more attracted to the questions of the influence of such photography on the futurists, and later artists including those working today, than in the reaction of 19th-century academic painters to the revelations of chronophotography. However, it seems to me that the full, detailed story of how Eadweard Muybridge’s important scientific work in establishing the true nature of animal movement was received by the art world is still to be written, and would be an important contribution to Muybridge studies. [4]

1. Nature, May 23rd -which I have not yet read.

2. ‘La Representation du Galop dans l’art ancien et moderne,” Revue Archeologique, Vol. xxxvi et seq, 1900.
(This was subsequent to the work of others, including Emile Duhousset and Muybridge himself, in tracing these artistic developments throughout history.)

3. ‘Lecture by Eadweard Muybridge’, Typescript, National Museum of American History, Washington DC.

4. Extracts by Lankester are from: Science from an Easy Chair. A Second Series (London: Methuen, 1915 second edition)

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Scarce Cuban poster on eBay

A scarce Cuban film poster by graphic artist Antonio Fernandez Reboiro, based on a Muybridge horse sequence, is currently on eBay.

From the seller’s text:

Cuban movie posters were made using the handmade silkscreen process. Aesthetically, the paint, applied in thick layers gave these posters a unique texture that is closer to a painting than to posters. Artistically they are among the best designed in the world and many prizes were awarded to their creators.

In the majority of titles, only 250-500 handmade posters were ever printed and except for a selected group of collectors, most people disposed of them by dressing walls or recycling. Only a fraction of those survived until now. This is one of the very few. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity from CubanPosters.

TITLE: Rodeo-  Cuban film Directed by Enrique Pineda Barnet
YEAR: 1972
ARTIST: Reboiro
MEDIUM: Silkscreen
SIZE: 20″x30″= 51x76cm

The artist’s website is here:

Poster here by Stephen Herbert

More Muybridge-inspired posters at The Compleat Muybridge