Tyler Green
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The Modern Art Notes Podcast: Edward Ball

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This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features National Book Award-winning author Edward Ball talking about his new book “The Inventor and the Tycoon.” The book tells the story of the relationship between photographer (and murderer) Eadweard Muybridge and railroad tycoon Leland Stanford, one of the Big Four who built the western half of the transcontinental railroad. Stanford commissioned Muybridge’s famous ‘animal locomotion’ pictures and stood by his man even as Muybridge faced a murder charge. Ball’s book weaves together the story of their lives, their success and their eventual enmity into a rollicking-good narrative.

Ball won the National Book Award in 1998 for “Slaves in the Family,” which examines his family’s ownership of slaves in South Carolina.

Among the topics we discussed are:

  • Why Ball was attracted to the story of Stanford and Muybridge;
  • Whether both were responsible for murders;
  • Who deserves the most credit for Muybridge’s animals-in-movement pictures: Stanford, who had the idea, or Muybridge, who executed it?; and
  • The rise of Edison and the fall of Muybridge.

On the second segment, David Maisel discusses his new book “Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime,” which is just out from Steidl. An exhibition by the same title of Maisel’s work is on view at the University of Colorado Art Museum through May 11.

How to listen: Download the show to your PC/mobile device. Subscribe to The MAN Podcast via iTunesSoundCloudStitcher or RSS. Stream the program at MANPodcast.com.

The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. The program is edited by Wilson Butterworth. The MAN Podcast is released under this Creative Commons license.

For links images of artworks discussed on this week’s show, please click through to the jump.


David Maisel, Wall of Ash, Walking to the Crater,Mount St. Helens, 1983.

David Maisel, The Mining Project (Clifton, Arizona 6), 1989.

David Maisel, Terminal Mirage 19, 2003.

Isamu Noguchi, Sculpture to be Seen From Mars (model), 1947.

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