Lot 16: Barbara Morgan

Martha Graham – “Satyric Festival Song”
Silver gelatin print 12.75 x 9.25 inches
Signed verso
Courtesy of Will Faller
Fair Market Value

BIO: Barbara Morgan (1900-1992) was an American photographer best known for her depictions of modern dancers. She was a co-founder of the photography magazine Aperture. Morgan is known in the visual art and dance worlds for her penetrating studies of iconic and seminal American modern dancers. Morgan’s drawings, prints, watercolors, and paintings were exhibited widely in California in the 1920s, and in New York and Philadelphia in the 1930s. Morgan was born in Kansas and studied painting at UCLA. She began experimenting with photography by documenting the dance rituals of Navajo and Pueblo Indian tribes while traveling in the Southwest United States. Upon moving to New York City, she attended a Martha Graham dance performance, and she began an exhaustive photography project documenting at least 40 established dancers and choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, and Jose Limon, who would later become known as the founders of the American Modern Dance Movement. She lit and shot her images from different angles and manipulated the points of focus of her camera in order to create minimal and dramatic compositions. Together with her friends Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Minor White and Beaumont Newhall, she founded Aperture magazine.

Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1988. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the George Eastman House in Rochester NY, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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