**Yosemite: Its Wonders and Its Beauties (1868), John S. Hittell. Photographs by Eadweard J. Muybridge "Helios". SAN FRANCISCO:
H. H. BANCROFT & COMPANY, 609 Montgomery St., and 607-617 Merchant Street, New York: 113 William Street. The first Yosemite book with photographs; 20 original albumen photographs by Muybridge; tipped in by hand in every copy of the book. John Hittell commissioned Muybridge ". . . because no engravings could do justice to the scenes, or convey perfect confidence in the accuracy of the drawing of such immense elevations as those of Tutucanala and Tissayac."
THE COMPLEAT EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE: ORAL HISTORY (SOL LEWITT)
This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Sol Lewitt, 1974 July 15, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Interview with Sol Lewitt
The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Sol Lewitt on July 15, 1974. The interview was conducted by Paul Cummings as part of the California Oral History Project for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
MR. CUMMINGS: Are you interested in film?
MR. LEWITT: Sure, I think, in a purely - not in a serious way, but I watch films on T.V. a lot. I think it's a really great means of expression. That's the other arm of Abstract Art. It's what happened to Representational Art. It became photographs, or film.
MR. CUMMINGS: All the galleries around the country are showing photographs coming up out of everywhere.
MR. LEWITT: I know. One of the biggest influences was when I first came to New York, a friend of mine living in New York for some time had gotten this from an old artist who had died, and he had a first edition Muybridge.
MR. CUMMINGS: Oh, really?
MR. LEWITT: I borrowed it. I should return it. I hate to return it. I was always turned on to Muybridge. After, the still life paintings evolved into little figures that I took out of Muybridge. I had one figure in each painting. Then it always became the same one of the man somersaulting. I think that Muybridge was really the biggest influence on my art of any older artist.
MR. CUMMINGS: What do you think the appeal was to you in his photographs?
MR. LEWITT: The logic of the surreal image was the important thing to me. At first it was the image, but then it became the fact of seeing things from three different angles, as they emerged and changed. It had a beginning and an ending. A kind of philosophical realism.
MR. CUMMINGS: All of the theories were active, reaching, or stepping, or jumping, moving.
MR. LEWITT: He called his work a figure in action, in motion, or animals in motion. Of course they were still photographs.
MR. CUMMINGS: He could line them up. It was just like the old flipbooks.
MR. LEWITT: It was right on the edge of photography and motion pictures.
MR. CUMMINGS: Did you ever make photographs like that?
MR. LEWITT: I did a few pieces using photographs. Well, there were two: they were called Muybridge 1 and Muybridge 2. The first one I had, I made a box which was about ten feet long, one foot high and about one foot, ten inches deep. They were made into ten compartments each, into the full room of the box. In each I had a photograph of a model walking towards the viewer. Muybridge always had them going at a perpendicular angle. But this one was walking directly towards the viewer. One, she was walking; the other, she was just sitting in a chair. It was a process of enlargement, using a same type of model. I did a couple others. A figure seen from four sides in a box. These were done about 1964. But those were the only things I did specifically using photographs. end
THE COMPLEAT EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE: ANIMAL LOCOMOTION review
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Monday, March 5, 1888,
WONDERS OF THE CAMERA. ANIMAL LOCOMOTION, An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movement. 1872-1885. By EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE. Published under the auspices of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA. Plates by the PHOTOGRAVURE COMPANY. Philadelphia. 1887. Author's Edition. Subscription edition, 100 plates, in a portfolio.
In the studio of Mr. William Bradford, on Union-square, one finds a stack of enormous folios. They contain the results of experiments in photographing live creatures while in movement, conducted for 13 years, and at last so perfected that scientists, artists, and those who are curious to learn the facts of existence in the less common forms can use them as treasure stores whence to extract useful information. Very wonderful are the truths which the camera and its ruler, the sun, have been kind enough, together with not a little human wit, to reveal to benighted mortals. Among other things it has reinforced with scientific certainty the old saying that, "having eyes, ye see not."
The experiments with instantaneous photography conducted a number of years ago in California by Mr. Eadweard Muybridge have made more stir in Europe than in America. Perhaps this arises from the fact that Mr. Muybridge soon found it expedient to proceed abroad....[section not transcribed]
As Mr. Muybridge marshals his cameras, and after placing them on front and flank, shoots them in swift succession by electricity, the object aimed at is taken at extremely quick intervals during a given motion, never lasting long. Thus is obtained a very minute analysis of that motion spread in the most wonderful way over a lot of negatives and capable of being reproduced in the ordinary way of photographs. If you examine such a series, depicting the object afresh at intervals of a few seconds, you can gradually reconstruct the motion itself. That is to say, the eye runs along the series, and by the aid of imagination the movement seems taking place.
The artists in question probably thought that the invention gave the chance to do without imagination, but they were grievously mistaken. Just as much imagination is needed by the artist as before - but, and it is a weighty "but" - the series gives the artist a choice of positions to start with, then it corrects any flagrantly wrong ideas about animals in motion, such as the parallelism of the fore legs of a horse in leaping, which never occurs, or the putting to the ground of the hoofs otherwise than by a fixed system never before shown to be the rule - finally, and in this lies its great virture, it educates the artist's eye.
[etc, etc - review continues]
British Journal of Photography, editorial reminiscence, 17 July 1896.