Horse in Motion

7:00 AM

Eadweard Muybridge, The Horse in Motion, 1878

Photography brought a whole new type of bacon to the art table. While painting allowed for artists to use their own exclusive style, photography captured reality in its essence.  An artist controls the subject; he or she chooses the foreground, mid-ground, and background. Photographers barter with a system of gives and takes.  Nature controls the outcome of the photograph. Too much sunlight and the photograph comes out white from too much exposure.  Richard Brettell, in Modern Art 1851-1929, outlines the difficulty of outdoor photography.  The edges of photographs oftentimes contain objects undesirable, destroying an opportunity for that particular shot.  He writes how the originally aesthetically displeasing inconvenience mutated into coveted characteristics.

However in exchange for the drawback of nature, the photographer gains an exponential growth in detail than that of traditional painting. Francisco de Zurbarán's paintings contain an extraordinary amount of detail, such as in Lamb of God, but Muybridge's The Horse in Motion reveals a neuoteric perspective on the horse anatomy.

A horse's legs have always confused me.  The front legs bend backwards at the knee, but the back legs bend forwards at the knee.  Photography exposes the prodigious evolutionary feat of the horse gallop.  The horse momentarily drifts in midair after its powerful quadriceps propel it forward.  Painting on a canvas would fail in communicating the process of this system, but Muybridge beautifully lays out this series in the form of a progression.

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