Garry Winogrand

untitled (from the series Women Are Beautiful)

c. 1975
gelatin silver print, edition 26/50
220mm x 330mm

signed Garry Winogrand and inscribed 26/50 in graphite verso

Provenance

Private collection, Christchurch.
Acquired from Katrina Doerner Photographs, New York.

Essay

Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) cultivated a persona that appeared street-smart, irreverent, and unpretentious, while simultaneously being one of the late twentieth century’s most...

Read full text
Estimate $2,500 - $3,500
Achieved $1,500

Garry Winogrand

untitled (from the series Women Are Beautiful)

c. 1975

gelatin silver print, edition 26/50

signed Garry Winogrand and inscribed 26/50 in graphite verso

220mm x 330mm

Auction N˚2

Estimate $2,500 - $3,500

Achieved $1,500

Winogrand on the Street

by Martin Patrick

Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) cultivated a persona that appeared street-smart, irreverent, and unpretentious, while simultaneously being one of the late twentieth century’s most important photographers. This attitude provided some excellent, sharp quotes for interviewers, but on occasion might have distracted the casual observer from the fact that he was a deeply serious artist who created images of great subtlety. Winogrand once said, “I don’t have to have any storytelling responsibility to what I’m photographing, I have a responsibility to describe it well.”

Winogrand compares favourably to several of his contemporaries, other innovative photographers who worked within the street photography idiom, such as Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander, both of whom were included along with him in curator John Szarkowski’s seminal 1967 exhibition for the Museum of Modern Art, New Documents. Winogrand is renowned for his extreme working methods, involving shooting vast amounts of film, which was to be processed and edited through later. At the time of his death in 1984 from cancer, there were purportedly 2500 rolls of undeveloped film left in his studio. Although Winogrand photographed regularly, incorporating a diverse range of subject matter, his work was often disseminated via themed photographic exhibitions and books, which included The Animals (1969),Women Are Beautiful (1975), Public Relations (1977), and Stock Photographs(1980).

In The Animals, Winogrand depicted Central Park Zoo’s residents and its visitors, embarking on a compellingly dramatic pictorial foray into examining social interactions within the confines of the zoo. In these images, the sequestered urban animals are not always in the best of condition and the behaviour of the zoo’s visitors often looks starkly surreal. Winogrand exercised a compressed and startling wit, creating images which were provocative, and to some viewers even disturbing or offensive. However, Winogrand’s oft-cited credo was: “I photograph to see what something looks like photographed.” Rather than a specifically directed social critique, Winogrand tended toward a carnivalesque depiction of the everyday world, especially of New York City. However, many of his photographs, particularly the ones taken at contentious and violent demonstrations seen in Public Relations, offer an unflinching view of the era’s political unrest.

As with many determinedly independent artists, it is sometimes difficult to defend Winogrand’s editorial decisions, as they were so idiosyncratic and subjective. This is the case with Women Are Beautiful, in which Winogrand collected images taken of women in the streets, parks, and other public settings. Some of these images seem downright lustful and prurient in their sense of impulsive scopophilia, while others seem manifestations of the joy of being amidst other humans out in the world, surrounded by the vivid spectacle that is public life. Here we see that Winogrand’s camera eye has descended upon a young woman, whose visage is partially obscured by five dogs, three of which appear to directly return the photographer’s gaze. I would imagine the subject of this photo is a dog walker, a time worn New York occupation, stopping to rest in a park. However, it is impossible to say for certain, as Winogrand’s work always presents a slice of precise description, eliciting personal narratives from the viewer.