Photographic Time from the 19th Century to the Present
June 15 to September 30, 2012
Alcove Study Gallery
Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fall Hours:(September 4 to September 30)
Weekdays: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weekends: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
September 7, 2012, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Plate #3, "L'Après-midi d'un faune: Nijinsky, 1912" [1914, printed 1978], Palladium prints, black and white; various sizes, Eakins Press gift, 1991
Baron de Meyer Photographs: Dance in Motion
The announcement of the invention of photography in 1839 was greeted with awe and wonder. But it soon became apparent that the process could not capture the likeness of a human face or motion, fast or slow. The next decades were spent in improving the technology and craft needed to capture motion.
The works of the 15 photographers in this exhibition are a concise summary of the history of the technology of photography, the quest to stop time and the changing aesthetics used to represent it.
Photographs are representations of physical things and they are metaphors meant to suggest states of being. Some photographs, such as Harold Edgerton's dye transfer color photograph of circus acrobats performing under the big tent, are beautiful and factual representations of time. Andre Kertesz's photograph of a Paris street corner seen from a high vantage point arrest movement and compress space into an abstraction.
W. Eugene Smith's dark and moody black and white silver gelatin photograph of night, picturing people and automobiles reduced to blurs of light, is atmospheric. Jacques Lartigue's silver gelatin photograph of a tennis player caught in mid-stride at the turn of the 20th century is as joyous and engaging as Smith's picture is strange. The consecutive motion study of a woman dancing, done by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887, is one of the earliest photographs of motion arrested. These composite images made with multiple cameras that simultaneously show motion from different planes was made possible with dry plate film and short exposures. Seen in rapid succession (by blinking your eyes moving from right to left) movement is recreated. Muybridge's photographs are acknowledged as the precursor to motion pictures.
Also on view will be the iconic ballet images of Adolf de Meyer, a Paris-born photographer who became world famous for his elegant photographic portraits of famous people. Born to a German father and Scottish mother, he was educated in Dresden, and in 1893 joined the Royal Photographic Society. Stieglitz exhibited his photographs at "291"in New York. de Meyer and his wife Olga promoted Diaghilev's Ballet Russe in their first London appearance in1911. The following year de Meyer made his famous photographs of Nijinsky dancing The Afternoon of a Faun in soft focus and in an atmospheric style to provide visual expression of the athleticism and artistry of Nijinsky's dance technique. The photographs were published in an album and republished in 1978 with three additional images. The entire sequence can be seen as a digital slide show alongside the 1978 album of platinum/palladium prints. Today these photographs are considered iconic images of both modern ballet and performance portraits of one of the first great dancers of the 20th century.
Exhibitions organized by William Williams, Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities and curator of photography at Haverford College.