Apollo’s Muse: The moon in the age of photography

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Half a billion viewers around the world tuned in to watch the first moon landing.. 50 years later, a new exhibition traces photographic representations of the moon from the dawn of the medium to the present day

On 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. It was the first spaceship to safely land in space, and as images were beamed back to earth, half a billion viewers tuned in to watch.

Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography traces visual representations of the moon from the medium’s inception to the present day. The exhibition, on show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, begins with an exploration of the progress of astronomical photography. Particular attention is paid to the 130-year period between the invention of photography and the moon landing, during which artists capitalised on technological improvements to create accurate visual records of space. The display includes two daguerreotype prints made in the mid-1800s, as well as astronomical records from the Paris Observatory.

Works created in the wake of the moon landing are also on show, by artists such as Gary Winnogrand, Robert Rauschenberg, and Nam June Paik. Images and films that explore depictions of life on the moon, including George Méliès’s original drawings for his 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, also feature.

“The moon has long been a nearly universal source of fascination and inspiration,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “This exhibition shows us how photography introduced new dimensions to its documentation and interpretation, and explores the tremendous impact that the 1969 moon landing had on artists of the time – the lasting effects of which still resonate today.”

Apollo’s Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography is on show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until 22 September 2019

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.