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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Animal Locomotion

    Guest blogger Maggie Hoot is a Smith College student, class of 2016, with a major in Art History. She is a Student Assistant in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

    Eadweard Muybridge. English, 1830 - 1904. Animal Locomotion: Plate 624;1887. Photogravure on paper mounted on paperboard. Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1950:53-624.

    In 1872, former California governor, railroad tycoon, and subsequent college founder, Leland Stanford wanted to prove the hotly debated hypothesis that there was a point in a running horse’s gait when all four feet would be off the ground at once. He hired a locally famous British photographer named Eadweard Muybridge to test the hypothesis by photographing his horse, Occident, in motion. At this time, photographic technology was not advanced enough and consequently Muybridge could not capture a definitive image.

    Five years later, Muybridge returned to Stanford’s ranch with improved equipment to try again. He was finally able to take a clear series of photos and proved Stanford right. This set of photographs of Stanford’s horse, Sallie Gardner, became an instant sensation and Muybridge’s photographic career reached new heights. Muybridge spent the next seven years touring the US and Europeshowing his photographs and lecturing on both photographic technologies and new research related to animal locomotion. He presented his work on a zoopraxiscope, the first machine capable of large-scale projection, which Muybridge himself invented. Muybridge based his invention on a children’s toy, the zoetrope, a handheld spinning drum that produces the illusion of motion, and used a lantern to project the image onto a screen.

    In 1884, Muybridge took a job at the University of Pennsylvania and began a new project based on his work for Stanford, but expanded his subjects well beyond horses. Muybridge photographed “men, women, and children, animals and birds, all actively engaged in walking, galloping, flying, working, playing, fighting, dancing, or other actions incidental to every-day life," (Animal LocomotionProspectus, 1887). He used models, athletes from the university, disabled patients from the local hospital, and animals from the Philadelphia Zoo. Three years later, he published his eleven volume masterpiece Animal Locomotion,which contains 781 plates with 20,000 total photographs. The SCMA has 516 different plates from Animal Locomotionin its collection.

    Eadweard Muybridge. English, 1830 - 1904. Animal Locomotion: Plate 365;1887. Photogravure on paper mounted on paperboard. Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1950:53-365.

    Eadweard Muybridge. English, 1830 - 1904. Animal Locomotion: Plate 538;1887. Photogravure on paper mounted on paperboard. Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1950:53-538.

    Muybridge’s work revolutionized the way scientists studied locomotion and physiology. Previously, scientists were largely limited by what they could observe with their own eyes, especially concerning objects in motion. Before Muybridge took his photographs, there was no way to prove Stanford’s hypothesis. Muybridge’s photographs helped generate new perspectives on the musculature and movements of people and animals.

    Though the impact of Muybridge’s work was considered to be primarily scientific, there was a less obvious but equally important impact on the artistic world. Many artists, including Edgar Degas, began copying poses from Muybridge’s photos to ensure accuracy in their own work. Before Muybridge, artists commonly drew horses running with both forelegs extended equally forward and hind legs equally behind, as in the Géricault print pictured below, which looks more like a cat leaping. Though most artists embraced the new technology and the accuracy it afforded, others such as August Rodin thought that it simply widened the gap between art and science. In his view, Muybridge’s work, and photography in general, fell on the side of science because it stopped time unnaturally, while art was the synthesis of more than a single moment.

    Théodore Géricault and Eugene Louis Lami. French (Gericault 1791 - 1824, Lami 1800 - 1890). Two Dapple-Gray Horses Being Taken for a Walk;1822. Gift of Frederick H. Schab. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1973:33.

    Eadweard Muybridge. English, 1830 - 1904. Animal Locomotion: Plate 719;1887. Photogravure on paper mounted on paperboard. Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1950:53-719.

    Muybridge considered himself first and foremost, an artist. This was clearly demonstrated in his habit of adding or subtracting photographs in a series to create more aesthetically pleasing results. Though he buried all the negatives, some collotypes remain today that indicate changes made before the final printing (for examples and more information, please visit the National Museum of American History website: http://americanhistory.si.edu/muybridge/index.htm). Despite his alterations, Muybridge’s work revolutionized the way the world understood the movement of animals and is still an important resource for the study of the body in motion.

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  • Thursday, August 15, 2013

    Paper + New People

    Big news for the Cunningham Center: Julie Warchol, our 2012-2013 Curatorial Fellow, has started her M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago!

    Julie Warchol outside the Florence Cathedral in Florence, Italy

                       Julie Warchol outside the Florence Cathedral in Florence, Italy

    Julie was a fixture at the Cunningham Center for over two years, first as a student at the 2011 Summer Institute for Art Museum Studies and later on as a curatorial volunteer. Her blog posts have been insightful and illuminating, touching on works by artists such as Vija Celmins,Ana Mendietaand, most recently, the photographer Garry Winograd. Don't be surprised if you see more posts from her in the future here on Paper+People.

    (Be sure to stop by the museum and see Julie's exhibition,Eye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s photography,before it closes in October!)

    As the new Curatorial Fellow, I'll be taking on Julie's role at the Smith College Museum of Art. This year isn’t my first time working in Northampton, or even on campus: I’m a Smithie! While I was a student here, I gave tours to visitors of all ages as a Student Museum Educator(SME), participated in the Museums Concentrationprogram and spent many, many late nights in Neilson Library. I was even an early Student Picks lottery winner. In 2012, I graduated with a degree in the Classics and a deep appreciation for the Smith community.

    A picture of me in Hatay, Turkey outside the Tunnel of Titus

                               A picture of me in Hatay, Turkey outside the Tunnel of Titus

    Soon after graduation, I moved to the city of Antalyaon the south-west coast of Turkey. For ten months my job was teaching English to a group of veryenergetic teenagers who kept me running around the classroom. Together, we discussed many topics, but some of our richest conversations were about art. They spoke about what art they treasured, its power as a medium to spread messages, and even debated that slippery question, "What is art?" One piece of art would become the starting point for conversation about anything from current events to fashion. Our classroom discussions cemented my belief in art's power to forge deep connection between people and between ideas, and I want to continue connecting others to art that speaks to them.

    Now, I’m back in the Pioneer Valley, and excited to share the incredible array of Prints, Drawings and Photographs in the Cunningham Center with you!

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  • Thursday, August 8, 2013

    Eye on the Street: Garry Winogrand

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A blond woman in a white dress with sparkly earrings dancingfrom Women are Beautiful,1969; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-6.

    Garry Winogrand produced thousands of images of fast-paced and ever-changing city life on the streets, in parks, and at protests, parties, parades, and even zoos. His obsession with observing modern society led him to produce far more photographs than he could develop and print. At the time of his death in 1984, he left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film and an additional 6,500 developed, but unprinted, rolls. Winogrand created a multitude of frank and honest photographic studies that explore how people interact with their social environment. He is considered to be the preeminent street photographer of his generation.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A woman wearing white slacks and paisley shirt crossing the streetfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1970; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-2.

    Intuition and spontaneity were of great importance to Winogrand’s working practice and photographic style. He most often used a hand-held 35mm camera so that he could take photographs quickly and freely without a tripod. Shooting photographs in this manner with a pre-focused wide angle lens granted him the freedom to capture as much of his subject’s surroundings as possible, often producing an unconventional and characteristic tilted-frame composition, as in Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcase(below).

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcasefrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1972; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-22.

    Published as a book in 1975 and as a portfolio of prints in 1981, Women are Beautifulis a series of eighty-five candid images of women in New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These photographs have been the subject of much critical debate because of their voyeurism, emphasis on the male perspective, and the objectification of their subjects. However, Women are Beautifulis fraught with contradictions. While many of the women appear to be unaware of the photographer’s presence, there are also women who make eye contact with an air of strength and independence. Winogrand employs photography as a way of understanding and reflecting a society full of such contradictions. As fellow photographer Joel Meyerowitz aptly describes them, “[Winogrand’s] pictures are both a slam and an embrace.”

    These and other photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, andDanny Lyonare currently on view inEye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photographyat SCMA until October 13, 2013.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman with headband and hoop earrings in a groupfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1975; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-16.

    Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Two couples on the stairs of the Metropolitan Museumfrom Women are Beautiful,1971; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-10.

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