What to book: Eadweard Muybridge at Beetles + Huxley

The 19th-century British photographer created striking imagery of animals and humans in motion

‘Animal Locomotion Plate 628 (Man Riding Galloping Horse)’, 1887. © Eadweard Muybridge. Image courtesy of Beetles + Huxley 

A new exhibition at Beetles + Huxley will delve into the history of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose important series ‘Animal Locomotion’ captured animals and people mid-movement.

Showcasing 65 collotype prints produced in 1887, the exhibition explores how Muybridge’s work broke new ground in both scientific and artistic terms, contributing to developments in physiology and biomechanics while influencing artists from Edgar Degas to Marcel Duchamp. 

‘Animal Locomotion Plate 617 (Nude Man Riding Horse)’, detail, 1887. © Eadweard Muybridge. Image courtesy of Beetles + Huxley 

Muybridge, who emigrated to the US in the 1850s and built a successful career as a landscape photographer, was hired by Leland Standford in 1872 to photograph his horse galloping, in order to settle the question of whether the animal’s hooves were lifted off the ground at the same time. Here, Muybridge pushed the limits of the camera’s possibilities, developing a system that captured every stage of the movement. This work paved the way for the ‘Animal Locomotion’ series, recording a range of sequences studying the gait of sloths, camels and capybaras, and the flight of pigeons.

‘Animal Locomotion Plate 156 (Woman Leaping Over Stool)’, detail, 1887. © Eadweard Muybridge. Image courtesy of Beetles + Huxley 

The public are invited to join in Muybridge’s journey of discovery at the exhibition, which also features stills of human subjects walking, running and descending staircases, as well as boxing, fencing, weight-lifting and wrestling.

The exhibition runs from 19 July to 2 September at Beetles + Huxley, 3–5 Swallow Street, London W1.

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