Object: Martha Graham - ’Ekstasis’
This image has All Rights Reserved.
Please follow the Buy or license link under each image to apply to use this image. (Charges may apply)
Why you need to apply for the use of this image
Rights for this work may be:
- controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or
- unclear - Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or
- covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.
You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use this image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of this image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.
More information about copyright
We recommend these resources for more information:
- Copyright in NZ - Ministry of Economic Development
- Copyright guidelines and resource - Lianza
- Enabling use and re-use - Digital NZ
Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned.
Get in touch
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- if you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, or
- if you wish to contact the rights holder for this work. We will assist where we can.
|Title||Martha Graham - ’Ekstasis’|
Morgan, Barbara (photographer), 1935, United States
|Medium summary||black and white photograph, gelatin silver print|
|Materials||silver, photographic gelatin, photographic paper|
|Classification||black-and-white prints, gelatin silver prints, black-and-white photographs, works of art|
x 341mm (Width)
Support: 505mm (Height) x 404mm (Width)
|Credit line||Purchased 1984 with New Zealand Lottery Board funds|
Barbara Morgan was attending a commemoration for Isadora Duncan, the pioneer of modern dance, when she noticed how few records there were of Duncan’s life. She decided ‘that photographers have an opportunity to be of service’1 in documenting such transient things as dance performances. Morgan was an established modernist painter and printmaker, but after meeting Edward Weston in 1925 and through the influence of her husband, photographer and writer Willard Morgan, became convinced that photography too could be art. With the birth of her second son in 1935 she decided that switching to photography would also allow her more time to raise a family.
Impressed by viewing Martha Graham’s dance, Primitive mysteries, in 1935, and by what she felt were life-affirming dance statements being made by Graham and her peers during the hardships of the Depression, she proposed to Graham that they work together on a book, published in 1941 as Martha Graham: Sixteen dances in photographs.
Despite Morgan’s various declarations of documentary intent, it is clear from her images and other statements that her ultimate aim was to use dance to produce photographic works of art in their own right. Her dance photographs were never fortuitous shots of a performance on stage, but highly collaborative and planned sessions in her studio. She would view rehearsals and performances until she could identify significant moments, the eloquence and completeness of which represented the essence of a dance — its ‘rhythmic vitality’2 and ‘spiritual-emotional energy’,3 as she put it. Where necessary, movements were even reconfigured or condensed for the camera.
Light was as important as gesture, and Morgan’s studio was set up with the relatively new technology of studio flash equipment, which allowed her to freeze action. Her pre-visualisation of an image extended from a particular dance movement right down to how it would be lit. Of this particular photograph from Martha Graham’s 1933 dance Ekstasis, Morgan said that the ‘side and back lighting frees and solidifies the sculptural form’.4 The ‘rhythmical monumentality’5 created by light epitomised her feeling for the dance.
This essay appears in Art at Te Papa, (Te Papa Press, 2009)
1. Cited in Curtis L Carter and William C Agee, Barbara Morgan: Prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs, exhibition catalogue, Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art and Morgan Morgan, Wisconsin, 1988, p. 18.
2. Barbara Morgan, with an introduction by Peter Bunnell, Barbara Morgan, Morgan Morgan, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, 1972, p. 9.
3. Cited in Curtis L Carter and William C Agee, Barbara Morgan: Prints, drawings, watercolors and photographs, p. 26.
4. Barbara Morgan, Aperture (monograph), vol. 11, no. 1, 1964, p. 16.
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.