Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eye on the Street: Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A blond woman in a white dress with sparkly earrings dancingfrom Women are Beautiful,1969; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-6.

Garry Winogrand produced thousands of images of fast-paced and ever-changing city life on the streets, in parks, and at protests, parties, parades, and even zoos. His obsession with observing modern society led him to produce far more photographs than he could develop and print. At the time of his death in 1984, he left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film and an additional 6,500 developed, but unprinted, rolls. Winogrand created a multitude of frank and honest photographic studies that explore how people interact with their social environment. He is considered to be the preeminent street photographer of his generation.

Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. A woman wearing white slacks and paisley shirt crossing the streetfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1970; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-2.

Intuition and spontaneity were of great importance to Winogrand’s working practice and photographic style. He most often used a hand-held 35mm camera so that he could take photographs quickly and freely without a tripod. Shooting photographs in this manner with a pre-focused wide angle lens granted him the freedom to capture as much of his subject’s surroundings as possible, often producing an unconventional and characteristic tilted-frame composition, as in Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcase(below).

Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman in a headscarf carrying a paisley suitcasefrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1972; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-22.

Published as a book in 1975 and as a portfolio of prints in 1981, Women are Beautifulis a series of eighty-five candid images of women in New York City in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These photographs have been the subject of much critical debate because of their voyeurism, emphasis on the male perspective, and the objectification of their subjects. However, Women are Beautifulis fraught with contradictions. While many of the women appear to be unaware of the photographer’s presence, there are also women who make eye contact with an air of strength and independence. Winogrand employs photography as a way of understanding and reflecting a society full of such contradictions. As fellow photographer Joel Meyerowitz aptly describes them, “[Winogrand’s] pictures are both a slam and an embrace.”

These and other photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, andDanny Lyonare currently on view inEye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photographyat SCMA until October 13, 2013.

Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Woman with headband and hoop earrings in a groupfrom Women are Beautiful,ca. 1975; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-16.

Garry Winogrand. American, 1928-1984. Two couples on the stairs of the Metropolitan Museumfrom Women are Beautiful,1971; print 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:31-10.

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