Musée d'Orsay: Movements of Air Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) Photographer of Fluids

Movements of Air Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) Photographer of Fluids

Etienne-Jules MareyTilted plane, 60-degree angle, fourth and last version of the smoke machine equipped with 57 channels© Cinémathèque française
On the occasion of the centenary of his death, this exhibition pays homage to Etienne-Jules Marey with a little-known aspect of his work, the study of air movement by means of a "smoke machine" he devised and of instant photography.

The inventor among other things of chronophotography, this famous physiologist devoted his life to the study of movement in all its forms: animal and human locomotion, blood circulation, displacement of objects and fluids, gravity.

Marey was one of the first theoreticians of aeronautics, the study of which led him to his aesthetic apotheosis during the years 1899-1902. His last major works were devoted to the observation and instant photography of smoke currents produced in his "smoke machine", one of the first modern aerodynamic wind tunnels, showing the diverse shapes of wisps of smoke according to the obstacle encountered in their trajectory.

The shots thus made by Marey, fantastical images combining science and dream, poetry and technique, are aesthetic masterpieces that belong equally to the history of art, of photography, of aeronautics and aerodynamics. Mostly part of the collections of the Cinemathèque Française, they are hitherto unpublished material and some of them have never been shown since their creation. Several "smoke machines" are presented along with original plates and photographic prints.

Detailed presentation


Laurent Mannoni, curator in charge of the collections of the Cinémathèque française
Dominique de Font-Reaulx, curator, Musée d'Orsay

Exhibition by the Musée d'Orsay and the Cinémathèque française, with the patronage of the Collège de France

Exhibition organised as part of the Mois de la Photo à Paris, November 2004

19 October 2004 - 16 January 2005
Musée d'Orsay

Permanent gallery of photography ground floor, on the side of the Rue de Lille

Enlarge font size Reduce font size Print