CONVEYING MOTION The challenge of conveying motion in the static media of painting and sculpture has intrigued artists since the first painters created images of animals on cave walls in Chauvet and Lascaux, France, dating back 32,000 years. In Chauvet, a rhinoceros is depicted with multiple horns, which looks like a nodding head. In Lascaux, horses appear with legs extended at different angles to indicate stages of a running gait. When running, an animal’s legs move too quickly for the human eye to see clearly. Until the advent of photography, artists often depicted running by showing a creature’s legs extended in front and behind, but there was some debate over the accuracy of this pose. Arthur Verner’s Buffalo Stampede illustrates this method of depicting animals running, echoing the horses portrayed in the caves of Lascaux. Spectators also debated whether or not a trotting animal ever had all four feet off of the ground at the same time. It took the innovative work of photographer Eadweard Muybridge to show the precise movements of trotting and running horses in 1872, and other running creatures in 38 National Museum of Wildlife Art | WildlifeArt.org the 1880s. His work showed that a horse’s legs leave the ground completely and do not extend in front and behind at the same time. Muybridge’s work gave artists a clear template from which to work when depicting animals on the run. Painters and sculptors today employ some of the same techniques used by the artists who first depicted animals in action on cave walls. Theodore Waddell’s Hemingway’s Dream shows an elephant swinging its trunk by repeating the shape multiple times. Using this technique, Waddell alludes not only to early cave painting, but also to the work of a group of early 20th-century artists known as the Futurists, who sought new ways of depicting light, motion and speed suitable for an increasingly modern and urban era. Other ways to depict motion are to show multiple animals in different stages of a similar action. Albéric Collin’s beautiful sculpture, Deer in Flight, shows one deer in the process of landing while another is just leaving the ground. Robert Glen’s Three Giraffe Running shows giraffes in different stages of their gait. Both are reminiscent of Muybridge’s multiple-exposure images, capturing key positions in the process of moving quickly. Eadweard Muybridge (British, 1830–1904), Buffalo Walking, 1887. Silver gelatin photograph on linen steel-plate paper. 9 x 13 ⅝ inches. JKM Collection®, National Museum of Wildlife Art.
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