Progenitor of cinema and Duchampian innovation at SFMOMA
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 03-01-11
The real "nude descending a staircase"
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Ever enjoyed a photo flip-book? You were on territory pioneered by the great proto-cinematographer Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge made his mark on the late 1800's by using photographic series to analyze motion. He's most famous perhaps for resolving the question of whether horses raise all four hooves off the ground while galloping (they do). Lesser known is his considerable influence on the avant-garde art of the last century, from the Futurists' kinesthetic ambitions to the optical experiments of Bauhaus professor Laslo Moholy-Nagy. Duchamp's abrasive, motion-capturing Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 of 1912  was directly inspired by a Muybridge print.

Between now and June 7th, SFMOMA is putting on the first ever retrospective of Muybridge's work, entitled HELIOS: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. The exhibition will feature his technological achievements, such as an early projector colorfully known as a Zoopraxiscope (the term captures Muybridge's obsession with human and animal locomotion),  in addition to photography, notes and miscellany. To learn about his 20th century inheritors like Duchamp, the talk today, March 1st, called "Muybridge and his Legacy" might be a good bet.


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