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Gelatin silver print
17.5 x 26.5 x 12.8 cm (6 7/8 x 10 7/16 ins) (image) 20.1 x 28.7 cm (7 15/16 x 11 5/16 ins) (mount)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Credit Line: Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2010, Accession Number: 2010.1
Curatorial description (Accessed: 13 February 2016)
Demeny was the principal assistant to Etienne-Jules Marey (1831-1904), one of the nineteenth century's premier scientific investigators of the phenomenon of movement. In 1882, Demeny was instrumental in setting up Marey's "station physiologique" in the Bois de Boulogne--the studio where they carried out pioneering motion studies. Using a process that could make multiple exposures on a single photographic plate in rapid succession, Marey and Demeny could capture the visible traces of an entire motion in regular intervals and study that action at a level of detail not attainable by earlier photographic technologies.
This picture was made in 1906, after Marey's death, while Demeny was professor of physiology at the National school of gymnastics and fencing at Joinville, which he established. A sport based in a repertoire of very precise, economical moves, fencing lent itself naturally to the kind of physiologically precise study of movement made newly available by Demeny's photography.