Surplus Camera Blog
Barbara Morgan, 8 July 1900 – 17 August 1992
Morgan is known in the visual art and dance worlds for her penetrating studies of American modern dancers Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, Jose Limon, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and others. Morgan’s drawings, prints, watercolors and paintings were exhibited widely in California in the 1920s, and in New York and Philadelphia in the 1930s.
In her continuing quest to do more with photography, Morgan “began to feel the pervasive, vibratory character of light energy as a partner of the physical and spiritual energy of the dance, and as the prime mover of the photographic process. “Suddenly, I decided to pay my respects to light, and create a rhythmical light design for the book tailpiece.” She created gestural light drawings with an open shuttered camera in her darkened studio.
Although photomontage was enthusiastically practiced in Europe and Latin America in the 1930s and 40s, it was still alien to American photography and widely disparaged. Morgan’s knowledge of the European avant-garde, and her friendship with Lucia and László Moholy-Nagy, furthered her interest in montage. She was particularly stuck by how the genre could capture the multiplicity of modern American life. She worked with themes of social concern and natural and constructed environments.
Morgan’s life and art were both infused with this profound sense of energy and purposefulness. “I’m not just a ‘photographer’ or a ‘painter,’” she asserted, “but a visually aware human being searching out ways to communicate the intensities of life.”
Barbara Morgan was an instructor at the second Ansel Adams Workshops I attended in 1983. Shortly before the workshop she had fallen and sprained her ankle, and was in need of a wheelchair to move about the campus of the Robert Lewis Stevenson School, where the sessions took place. I ended up wheeling her to-and-fro throughout the week, and we had many conversations on mysticism and our respective Buddhist and Bahá’í beliefs. At the end of the week she graciously gave me a copy of her light drawing Samadhi.
Barbara Morgan: Doris Humphrey, “Square Dance for Moderns” (Waltz), 1938
Willard (with a Leica rangefinder) and Barbara Morgan at a Life Magazine Party
Barbara Morgan: Samadhi
Barbara Morgan: Artificial Life from the Laboratory
Barbara Morgan: Beaumont Newhall, Ansel Adams, and Willard Morgan in Barbara’s Studio
Barbara Morgan: Martha Graham - Letter to the World
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The Guntersville Museum: Restoring Leon Kennamer’s Century Master Studio CameraSurplus Camera Gear is happy to be able to assist The Guntersville Museum in their restoration of portrait photographer Leon Kennamer’s Folmer Graflex Century Master Studio Camera by providing reference images of our own late model camera. We look forward to the camera being on display [...]
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“Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time,” at the George Eastman Museum Had a wonderful evening at the preview of the new exhibition “Eugene Richards: The Run-On of Time,” at the George Eastman Museum. I was first introduced to Richards’ work in the 1980s as a student at the Maine Photographic Workshops. The Eastman exhibit is the [...]
Irving Penn: Centennial at The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present a major retrospective of the photographs of Irving Penn to mark the centennial of the artist's birth. Over the course of his nearly 70-year career, Irving Penn (1917–2009) mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its [...]
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Edward Steichen’s BirthdayEdward Jean Steichen (March 27, 1879 – March 25, 1973) was a Luxembourgish American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator.Steichen was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Together Stieglitz and Steichen opened the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, [...]
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S. K. Grimes, The Photographer’s Machinist S. K. Grimes, Inc., in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, provides specific solutions for photographers, whether custom machining and modifications, camera and lens repair, overhauling shutters, engraving aperture and shutter-speed scales, lens mounting, research and design, etc. They’re located in the Woonsocket Industrial Mill Complex on Pond Street between Mechanic Avenue & [...]