Cameron, Julia M.
Coburn, Alvin L.
Talbot,William H. Fox
Documentary, Photojournalism, Stock
Biography: Garry Winogrand photographed to see what things
looked like photographed. He first picked up a camera in the 1950's
and didn't put it down until his untimely death in 1984. During
the 30 years he photographed, Winogrand created numerous images,
produced five books, and exhibited extensively throughout the
United States and abroad. He shot in the street, from the hip,
up close with a wide-angle lens, often tilting the camera. He
was a prolific shooter and his images capture what is known to
photographers as the 'decisive moment.'
Winogrand's subject was America. He documented the city and the
urban landscape, concentrating on its unusual people and capturing
odd juxtapositions of animate and inanimate objects. Winogrand
began photographing in New York, doing commercial work. He was
inspired by Walker Evans' 1938 book American Photographs and for
the first time realized that photographs could communicate something
special and unique. Impressed by not only Evans, but also by Robert
Frank, whose book The Americans also came out in 1958, Winogrand
emulated their intelligent use of the photographic medium. And
immediately set out to carve his own niche as an imagemaker who
participated in, as well as documented contemporary life. Winogrand
made the city, the zoo, the airport, and the rodeo his home, and
spent endless hours photographing there. A photographer of this
sort is a wanderer, constantly roaming the globe, clicking the
shutter wherever he went.
Winogrand's photographs catch that odd moment where unrelated
activities coincided, and it is the nature of these juxtapositions
that sets his work apart from other photographers. He photographed
all subjects with the same detached but observant eye, making
complex compositions through which the viewer weaves. In his first
book The Animals (1969), photographs of people and animals at
the zoo are both a humorous and sarcastic look at the human race.
The animals exhibit human-like qualities and when photographed
in relation to humans it is often hard to tell who is performing
for whom. In one shot an elderly woman wearing diamond studded
pointy sunglasses looks out from the lower right hand corner of
the image. Behind her two rhinos butt heads, their bodies echoing
the shape of her glasses. In another zoo photograph a couple rests
against an animal cage, their backs turned to the animal who visually
will cross their paths, breaking their interaction apart. Much
of the action on Winogrand's photographs is implied. The pictures
exist before, in anticipation of that which is about to occur.
Winogrand's other books include Women are Beautiful (1975), Public
Relations (1977), and Stock Photographs: The Fort Worth Fat Stock
Show and Rodeo (1980). For Women are Beautiful Winogrand photographed
women on the streets of New York. He pictured them going about
their business, unaware that they were being photographed. The
women pictured are determined and fierce, and not necessarily
feminine or beautiful. The pictures seem to be less about a particular
subject than where the subject lies in space and how the light
falls to illuminate them and their surroundings.
Public Relations was a project to "photograph the effect
of the media on events." The photographs in this series include
pictures taken at sports arenas as well as at special parties
and events. Shot with a flash, these images not only document
a particular time and place in American history (like a Muhammad
Ali press conference, or a dinner for the Apollo 11 astronauts),
but they give us a glimpse of how these situations were created
for the media.
This exhibition juxtaposes a selection of the photographs he
made in New York City with those from Los Angeles. Those of New
York are dark and dense. Shot from the hip, often at an angle,
they are packed compositions that usually feature a central figure
or couple juxtaposed with peripherals that echo the central image.
In photographing Los Angeles, Winogrand opened up his compositions,
allowing light the fill the frame. These images feature the lure
of Los Angeles--snake charmers on Venice Beach, tourists in Hollywood,
the Huntington Gardens and the Santa Monica pier. The characters
who populate these places, celebrating the complexities of their
interactions, is the subject of these images. Winogrand might
document a single small gesture or look, but the photograph makes
that moment significant. And it is this collection of significant
moments that constitutes Winogrand's unique view of the world.
More on Garry Winogrand:
of Winogrand - Figments from the Real World
'Philip Greenspun's intensive review on 'Winogrand's Figments
from the Real World'.
Single Image from the Winogrand Collection. (one of Winogrand's
most famous images)
Museum of Art
Short Article on Winongrand's work.
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