Sunday, September 12, 2010

Summer Exhibitions

This year I saw three major Picasso exhibitions.  Even better than the London Gagosian show was the Peace & Freedom exhibition at Tate Liverpool.  Focusing on Picasso's often little noted role as a political activist, peace campaigner, supporter of women's causes and feminist.

The highlight is the Charnel House (1945) but I was particularly struck by Lobster vs. Cat!

Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy, London was a smallish exhibition in the 1st floor gallery space but packed with goodies from Sargent's early career. Travels around the Med and across the Atlantic bred a fascination with the sea and those who live around and work on it.  There were dynamic sketches of life on deck during trans-atlantic crossings.  The paintings of Mediterranean folk are a masterclass in expressive loose painting techniques.

Recently opened at Tate Britain, London is a fascinating look at the life and career of pioneer photographer Eadweard Muybridge.  Of course as an animation artist I'm familiar with his locomotion studies but I wasn't aware of his parallel career photographing northern California.  He made stunning landscape shots of Yosemite, lighthouses along the Pacific Coast, the Farallon Islands and giant Redwoods.  He had settled in San Francisco and it was railroad tycoon John Stanford who first commissioned Muybridge to settle the 'flying horse' debate.  Muybridge made an impressive panoramic study of San Francisco from the roof of Mark Hopkins'mansion on Nob Hill.  More intimate studies of the interiors of these mansions gave an insight into the world of the 'railway rich' around the turn of the last century before it was decimated by the earthquake and fire of 1906.

Muybridge really led an extraordinary life-a self made man born in England who made a name for himself in California.  He pioneered early photographic techniques, reinvented himself as Helios and made a fortune flogging postcards.  He later shot his wife's lover in the face and literally got away with murder!   He's influenced everyone from Francis Bacon and David Hockney to animators and film-makers.  Someday a biopic film will be made of Muybridge and his luxuriant beard. (Apparently Philip Glass based his 1982 opera The Photographer on Muybridge's life).
This is Muybridge in the shot above contemplating his next career move.


A. Riabovitchev said...

Are you still in UK?:o)

Matt J said...

Andrei, I'm in North Wales preparing to make the move!

A. Riabovitchev said...

O cool!Good luck on your new start!