SAN FRANCISCO - There are only a couple more weeks left to see “Garry Winogrand” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The landmark photography show, up through 02 June 2013, is the last exhibition at the museum before it closes for a long renovation; the show will eventually do a big East Coast tour, but not until next year.
This is one of those mind-expanding exhibitions that not only makes us see an artist with new eyes, it subtly shapes our vision of our own past, as I recently wrote in the New York Times.
Winogrand (1928–84) died at 56, so his career was cut short, but in his heyday of the 1960s and 1970s he put a distinctive stamp on traditional street photography, capturing something a little wild and unruly every step of the way, even in his sweet-natured early New York pictures. The 275 images in the show, smartly curated by the photographer Leo Rubinfien, lay out his huge ambition.
Garry Winogrand, Fort Worth, Texas, 1974–77. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.
The photographer’s sensibility was never a careful husbanding of his art—he shot first, and didn’t even ask questions later. Thousands of rolls of undeveloped film were hanging around when he died, and it was left to others to find the gems.
Paul Roth, the senior photography curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, recounted to me a famous Winogrand anecdote. “A British photo editor asked him for some images,” Roth said. “So Winogrand sent him a huge box of photos with a note: ‘Pick what you want and send the rest back.’”
Garry Winogrand, Central Park Zoo, New York, 1967. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.
The story demonstrated how “Winogrand abrogated editing and selection to the viewer,” Roth said. And this is probably part of why Winogrand’s reputation has faltered since his death. The show makes enormous strides toward putting him back in the elite pantheon of 20th-century photographers.
“It’s one of the crimes of the last 25 years in photography that he has been so ignored,” Roth told me. “But it’s our loss. If he had been alive, he wouldn’t have given a damn.”
You, dear reader, you should definitely give a damn about catching this show before 02 June 2013.
You, dear reader, you should definitely give a damn about catching this show before June 2.