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An interracial, interspecies family in New York, a rodeo in Texas and John F. Kennedy come together at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a retrospective of street photographer Garry Winogrand.
Originally curated and shown at SFMOMA, the exhibition explores the genius of Garry Winogrand’s photographs of the mid-20th-century, highlighting some of his best works throughout his career. The exhibition reveals unpublished and undeveloped work, some of which even Winogrand hadn’t seen. Guest curator Leo Rubinfien, associate curator Erin O’Toole, and senior curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Art Sarah Greenough worked to collect, interpret and organize Winogrand’s 26,000 rolls of film
Though he thought much could be revealed by scrutinizing the ordinary, he often left the specific interpretation of his photographs up to the viewer. In one photo from Winogrand’s time in Los Angeles, three fashionable women are lit by the sun’s rays. A disabled beggar hides the shadows. Winogrand refused to answer any questions about its deeper commentary on society.
In another photo, a monkey looks straight at the camera in the back of a convertible with a couple. Curator Jeff Rosenheim recalled asking him what the story was behind the monkey. Instead of offering an explanation, Winogrand stated that how the photo came to be doesn’t matter.
A photographer of subject, Winogrand was an “epic poet of life in the United States,” according to Rubinfien, and whether Winogrand admitted to it or not, each of his photos hints “at something darker beneath the veneer of the American dream.”
The exhibition chronicles Winogrand’s work in three parts: “Down from the Bronx,” “A Student of America,” and “Boom and Bust.” The first two explore the same time period from 1950 until 1971 in New York, and his travels across the U.S. during those two decades. The last part reflects Winogrand’s later works after he moved away from New York in 1971 until his death in 1984. These photos range from all over the U.S., but mainly in Texas and Southern California.
The exhibition will be on display until September 21, 2014, in the Met’s galleries for drawings, prints and photographs.