Winogrand, Garry

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WINOGRAND, GARRY (1928–1984), U.S magazine photojournalist and advertising photographer who developed an unusual style of "street" photography that helped change the nature of the genre. He photographed primarily on the streets of New York, the city in which he was born, portraying passers-by with an immediacy and physicality rarely found in still images. "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed," he said of his method, which incorporated rapid-fire shooting technique, wide-angle lenses and skewed framing for a satirical and sometimes disturbing vision that became popular in the 1970s. His pictures, which deceptively resembled snapshots, were crammed with activity. By traditional standards, critics said, the pictures represent the opposite of real-world photography. But they have the vitality, incongruity, and inexplicability of daily life. John Szarkowski, director of the Museum of Modern Art's photography division, called Winogrand "the central photographer of his generation." In a show at the Modern in 1988, Winogrand's work was divided chronologically: work from the 1960s on women (many published in the 1975 book Women Are Beautiful); on zoos (from The Animals, a 1969 book and show), and on public events in which the presence of the news media is significant (from "Public Relations," Winogrand's show at the Modern in 1977). In 1978, Winogrand, who freed himself from convention by tilting the frames of his images in an effort to develop fresh ways to depict the world, moved to Los Angeles. There, where street life took place in cars, Winogrand made many pictures from the front seat of an automobile. The images relegated human beings to a far distance.

To be a great photographer, Winogrand claimed half-seriously in the 1970s, was first, to be Jewish. The best ones, in his opinion, shared this birthright. By his definition, Jewish photographers were nervy, ironic, disruptive of artistic norms, and proud outsiders. Winogrand left behind some 2,500 rolls of exposed but undeveloped film, plus 6,500 developed rolls for which no contact sheets had been made, making a total of 300,000 unedited images. The Modern arranged to have the film developed and contacts prints made.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]