Epoch

Patrick Nagatani, 1996. Collage Mural. MTA building, 3rd level. Los Angeles. This is a collage of over 500 postcards of trains, ships, and other means of transportation, from 1900 on. The postcards are laid out in a circular pattern, suggesting a view of planet Earth from space. Photographs by Eadweard Muybridge of a running man, first published in 1887, float above "Earth" like a heavenly body. For a period of time, part of the mural was covered because of a controversy surrounding it.

Below is the text of the MTA plaque:

"The man who invented the moving picture.

"One of the greatest achievements of art and photography."

"A revolution in visual understanding."

"Groundbreaking."

these are just a few of the many tributes made to Eadweard Muybridge and the pioneering movement studies which he did in California in the 1870s and 80s. Thirty years before the development of the first automobile, Muybridge was commissioned by Leland Stanford (Founder of Stanford University) to photograph a horse in motion to determine if all four feet were ever off the ground at the same moment. Muybridge met the challenge and produced the first ever serial photograph.

Muybridge's revolutionary study of the human anatomy in motion forever changed the way artists represent human movement and is now recognized as a fundamental tool for artists worldwide. Muybridge's work is particularly relevant to the history of Southern California. The motion series is considered to be the first moving picture and thus was a critical discovery in the development of the area's important movie industry.

The seris of Muybridge images employed by artist Patrick Nagatani in his work for the MTA Gateway HQ Building is entitled Human Locomotion and is part of Muybridge's eleven volume study of humans, mammals and birds in motion (published in 1887). Human Locomotion is directly related to the mural's theme of transportation (Transport: to transfer or move from one place to another). This particular series is widely reproduced throughout the world; the original plates are located in California (at the Huntington Museum and STanford University) and early prints are appreciated by thousands of daily visitors to the Getty Museum in Malibu.

In order to most accurately desplay movement of the human body, Muybridge followed a long historical tradition of employing the nude figure. Cultures worldwide have used the nude figure in public settings. Western examples include Michelangelo's David and the Sistine Chapel, the Discus Thrower and Rodin's Thinker, which all employ the classical nude figure and are located in public spaces. More contemporary examples include Robert Graham's sculptures at the L.A. Coliseum (created for the 1984 Olympics) and at the top of the library steps at the First Interstate World Center, Tom Otterness sculptures for the Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles and the recent installation of several large sculptures by Fernando Botero along Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.


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