The year of Eadweard

This is the year of Eadweard Muybridge. No particular reasons why, given that the centenary of his death fell six years ago, but just the sheer excellence of his photographic work and the continued research and discovery that it encourages have led to three exhibitions of his work being planned for 2010 – a major one at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, which then moves to Tate Britain in London and San Francisco in 2011, and two on a smaller scale at his home town of Kingston.

The Washington exhibition runs 10 April-18 July and is entitled Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change (‘Helios’ was the name Muybridge adopted for a time when working as a professional photographer). The exhibition is being organised by Corcoran chief curator and head of research Philip Brookman. Here’s the blurb, which indicates the great breadth of Muybridge’s work and its lasting influence:

Best known for his groundbreaking studies of animal and human locomotion, 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge was also an innovative landscape artist and pioneer of documentary subjects. Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, the first retrospective exhibition to examine all aspects of Muybridge’s art, will be on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from April 10 through July 18, 2010.

Born in England in 1830, Muybridge spent much of his career in San Francisco and Philadelphia during a time of rapid industrial and technological growth. In the 1870s, he developed new ways to stop motion with his camera. Muybridge’s legendary sequential photographs of running horses helped spark a technological revolution that changed the way people saw the world. His projected animations inspired the early development of cinema and the enormous impact of his photographs can be measured throughout the course of modern art, from paintings and sculptures by Thomas Eakins, Edgar Degas, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Bacon, to the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix and the music video for U2’s hit song Lemon.

Structured in a series of thematic sections, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change includes numerous vintage photographs, albums, stereographs, lantern slides, glass negatives and positives, camera equipment, patent models, Zoopraxiscope discs, proof prints, notes, books, and other ephemera. Over 300 objects created between 1858 and 1893 are brought together for the first time from numerous international collections. Muybridge’s only surviving Zoopraxiscope—an apparatus he designed in 1879 to project motion pictures—will also be on view.

A catalogue of the exhibition will have with new essays by Brookman, Marta Braun, Andy Grundberg, Corey Keller, and Rebecca Solnit.

Then the exhibition moves to Tate Britain, where it will run 8 September 2010 to 16 January 2011, and thereafter it goes to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 26 February to 7 June 2011.

Kingston Museum’s Zoopraxiscope projector, from

Meanwhile, in Muybridge’s home town of Kingston (where he was born and where he died, thoughthe majority of his working life was spent in the United States) the museum will be hosting its own exhibition, Muybridge Revolutions. Kingston Museum is home to Muybridge’s personal collection, comprising nearly 3,000 objects which makes the museum home to one of the world’s most important historic collections of ‘pre-cinema’ artefacts. The exhibition will open around the time of the Tate Britain show in September 2010.

Kingston has played a major part in equipping the Washington/Tate/San Francisco exhibition, in particular by supplying it with its Zoopraxiscope, arguably the world’s first motion picture projector, along with some of its collection of 67 of Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope discs (only another three exist elsewhere in the world) through which he showed audiences from 1880 onwards animated sequences using silhouettes taken from his photographic sequences.

And there’s more, because Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Gallery is hosting a complemetary show which will include work produced by contemporary artists who have been given special access to the Muybridge collection.

Your first port of call for information on Eadweard Muybridge has to be The Compleat Muybridge site, while its offshot blog, Muy Blog (both are managed by Stephen Herbert) is the place to subscribe to for all the latest news on the year of Eadweard.