Despite all the hype that the medium has garnered as of late, street photography as an artistic style is marked by delayed acceptance. Vivian Maier, Bill Cunningham, Diane Arbus the entire cast of the film Everybody Street, these photographers practiced their craft for decades, but have only recently drawn the eye of the mainstream art world. That many of these artists have not been able to garner an audience until well into their careers (or in Maier’s case until well after her death) is a testament to the fickle sensibilities of the art world, but it does not detract from the quality of these artist’s work. Garry Winogrand stands out among this pack as a prime example of a street photography that is finally getting his much deserved day in the sun.
Born in 1928 in the Bronx, Winogrand was at the forefront of the New York City street photography movement shooting alongside fellow artists Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Joel Meyerowitz. For decades Winogrand explored the avenues and alleyways of this city (and beyond) snapping its citizens and sights from an entirely unfiltered perspective.
The true appeal of street photography can be perceived in the raw beauty of Winogrand’s images. By its very nature, a photograph is not intended to be eternal, it is meant to immortalize a fleeting moment. A dark nightclub, a city street, even a short-lived emotion, these are the candid topics that Winogrand captures and by looking at his work we are able to see into a bygone era at its purest form. The atmosphere of a temporal moment might be gone forever, but through Winogrand’s work we are able to revisit these scenes and get a sense of what happened when.
Winogrand unfortunately passed away in 1984, but since then his reputation has grown exponentially. Thanks to an incredible archive of images, many of which were not even developed, let alone seen by the public at his death, Winogrand has been honored with several posthumous solo exhibitions, including a retrospective last year at The Met in New York City. For an artist that pounded the pavement day in, day out, capturing the unbiased emotion of this city, it’s only right that Winogrand has finally found it’s way into New York’s most well trafficked museum.