Featuring 20th century photography from the museum collection and on loan, this exhibition explores images of the body in motion. For millennia, artists have sought to express the physicality of the human form. Photography was the first medium allowing artists to document the instant of movement; something that still fascinates the public and photographers alike. Whether capturing the refined beauty of modern dance, the line and gesture of the body moving through space, or the blurred exuberance of children at play, these images give us insight into how people move through the world.
This exhibition features the work of groundbreaking photographers such as Barbara Morgan (1900-1992) and Harold Edgerton (1903-1990). Morgan is known for images communicating the power and grace of modern dance. She worked with famed choreographer Martha Graham for decades, who stated of Morgan’s work “It is rare that even an inspired photographer possesses the demonic eye which can capture the instant of dance and transform it into timeless gesture.” While Morgan captured the essence of modern choreography, Edgerton captured that which the eye cannot perceive. A Doctor of Electrical Engineering, he developed a technique using short flashes of light to create still photographs of fast-moving objects such as birds in flight. Edgerton’s inventions influenced photography, as well as science, military surveillance, and filmmaking.
This selection of images demonstrates the artistry and the technological feats of ‘action’ photography and encourages us to contemplate the grace of the human form. Each work, whether of people dancing, working, or at play, is relatable yet gives a fresh perspective on our own bodies in motion.