This year, our official image is a photograph by American artist Barbara Morgan from 1938, represented by the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York.
Barbara Morgan was born in Kansas and studied painting at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her travels in the Southwest, where she observed Navajo and Pueblo Indians dance rituals, deeply impressed her. Morgan began experimenting with photography by documenting these dances.
Upon moving to New York City, she attended a Martha Graham dance performance, and she began an exhaustive photography project documenting at least 40 established dancers and choreographers, including Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, and Jose Limon, who would later become known as the founders of the American Modern Dance Movement.
She lit and shot her images from different angles and manipulated the points of focus of her camera in order to create minimal and dramatic compositions. Together with her friends Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984), Dorothea Lange (American, 1895–1965), Minor White (American, 1908– 1976), and Beaumont Newhall (American, 1908–1993), she founded Aperture Magazine.
Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1988.
Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the George Eastman House in Rochester NY, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.