Barbara Morgan

Photography for Prestini's Art in Wood

Barbara Morgan with Graflex camera. Image: Barbara Morgan Archives

American photographer Barbara Morgan is most well-known for her images of modern dancers including Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. Trained as a painter in the 1930s, it was not until the birth of her first child when she embraced photography as her primary artistic practice. The strong compositions and gestural vibrancy of her printed work is a reflection of her early training, and the resulting images are both powerful and subtly elegant. Aside from her work documenting dance, Morgan was also involved in design and photography for various publications. In 1950 she shot innovative artist James Prestini’s beautifully turned wooden bowls for Prestini’s Art in Wood by Edgar Kaufmann. The present photographs are studies for the book. The image of geranium leaves over a birch bowl appears on page six, and a variation of the four vessels on page three, likely adjusted for compositional effect. 

Light is the shape and play of my thought…my reason for being a photographer.

Barbara Morgan