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David Moore

Reflections: Cycling, Herne Hill, UK

Gael Newton

originally published in the MGA's catalogue
David Moore: A Vision, 1927-2003

With his innate love of the animate image it is not surprising that in London in the 1950s David Moore developed a specialisation in action pictures. He became a regular freelancer for The Observer which had a reputation for allowing its photographers more latitude with different and adventurous pictures.

Moore's 1953 blurred pictures of cycle races and trotters were really the first images to be published in which he demonstrated his interest in duration and flow; an approach he would later articulate as the 'soft spread of time'. Moore felt his impressionistic images were more true to experience than the frozen stop-action shots of traditional sports coverage. These shots were taken on his Rolleicord, a medium format size negative camera, but Moore soon adopted the then so called 'miniature' 35mm cameras being used by some of the top photojournalists.

A few years later in 1956 striking double page spreads of Moore's blurred sports pictures appeared in Picture Post, Settimane Giorno, Jours de France and Le Patriote lllustre and Die Woche. The magazines hailed Moore as a new talent on the scene and one called him 'one of the major photographers of our time'.

Moore was responding to new directions as picture magazines and newspapers sought more dramatic graphic, eye-catching spreads to compete with the loss of advertisers to television. Ernst Haas, Brian Brake and George Silk had all experimented with new approaches to the traditional photoessay in the early 1950s some in colour.

The new 'subjective' movement photographers in Europe also began experimenting with photograms of light patterns and abstraction and more personal viewpoints in these years. However, Moore had already experimented with blurred action shots of moving lights on ferris wheels and trotters at the RAS show ground in Sydney in the late 1940s.

This quest for retaining the vital 'life force' is at the absolute epicentre of Moore's oeuvre.


Gael Newton was the former Senior Curator, Photography at the NGA


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