Barbara Morgan

1900 - 1992 · United States

Artist biography

Barbara Morgan was an American photographer who was fascinated with the visual power of gesture. She was deeply inspired by her travels in the American Southwest, where she saw Navajo and Pueblo Indian dance rituals. Morgan’s experiments in photography began by documenting these dances. She moved to New York in 1930, where she began a project documenting 40 established dancers and choreographers, including Merce Cunningham.

She created minimal and dramatic compositions by lighting and shooting her images from different angles and manipulating the points of focus of her camera. For her, photography was about finding that moment of combustion when the energies of the spirit are coordinated with the action of the body.

Morgan founded Aperture Magazine together with fellow photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Minor White and Beaumont Newhall.

Today, her works are held in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, among others. Recent exhibitions include Aperture Photographs at the Aperture Foundation in New York (2019), New York, New York at Scott Nichols Gallery in Sonoma (2019) and 19th & 20th Century Photography Sale at Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York.

Barbara Morgan

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