Rhythmic Vitality: Photographs by Barbara Morgan

Exhibition Website

Sep 30 2017 - Jan 28 2018

This exhibition features photographs by Barbara Morgan (American, 1900–92) from the NCMA’s permanent collection. Although Morgan, one of the founders of the photography magazine Aperture, is best known for her studies of modern dance, she also created photomontages and light drawings.

Morgan said: “Whether my work is large or small, abstract or realistic, the one thing that must be present is rhythmic vitality...it doesn’t matter if it is dance or montage or people or nature. There always has to be the presence of energy.” 

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

Whether or not you go, Barbara Morgan: Masters of Photography Series provides insight into an iconic photographer. Although celebrated for her extraordinary studies of modern dance in the late 1920s and early thirties, Barbara Morgan enjoyed an artistic career that embraced a wide range of philosophical and aesthetic influences. Her studies of pioneering dancers such as Martha Graham, José Limón, Erik Hawkins and Merce Cunningham capture the spirituality of a temporal art. She also combined photograms and light drawing to experiment with moving light patterns. A former painter, she used montage and manipulated imagery to express the visual and kinetic energy of New York City. Included in this volume are the finest examples of Morgan's work: dance photographs, photomontages, light drawings and other works from a long, varied photographic career. In the accompanying essay, Deba P. Patnaik, photo-historian and Executive Director of the Willard & Barbara Morgan Foundation, provides an overview of the development of Morgan's career and insight into the beliefs that informed her work.

Barbara Morgan: Masters of Photography Series

  • Photography
  • American
  • 20th Century
  • Barbara Morgan

Exhibition Venues & Dates