Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa, FL




Garry Winogrand: Women are Beautiful


Illustrating his fascination with the human narrative and with the aesthetic possibilities of a wide-angle camera lens, Garry Winogrand's acclaimed documentary photographs appeared in magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Life for over twenty years. This exhibition features black-and-white images from Winogrand's Women are Beautiful portfolio, published in 1975.

These spontaneous photographs, taken in and around New York City throughout the 1960s and early 1970s celebrate contemporary urban women while also questioning how the meaning of the subject is affected by everything else within the frame. (left: Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984), Untitled from Women are Beautiful, 1975, Gelatin silver print, Tampa Museum of Art Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Osterweil)

Born in New York City, Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984) began photographing while in the United States Air Force. He studied painting at City College of New York in 1947 and photography at Columbia University, New York City, in 1948. In 1949 he attended a photojournalism class at the New School for Social Research, New York City, and from 1952 through 1969 worked as a freelance photojournalist and advertising photographer.

Winogrand was an important chronicler of contemporary American life. His approach to photography as social documentary was particularly influenced by Walker Evans' American Photographs and Robert Frank's The Americans, both published in 1955. While making the rounds with his commercial work, Winogrand would extensively photograph the streets of New York City for himself. Winogrand primarily used a wide-angle lens on a 35-mm camera and available light to capture telling moments in a seemingly casual, "snapshot" manner. The anonymous people depicted in Winogrand's photographs inhabit those places and participate in those events that define American urban history: they are seen on the street, in the park, at the zoo, in shopping malls, museums, political demonstrations, athletic events, and airports. They are usually caught off guard, oddly juxtaposed against backgrounds that add further definition to them.

The success of Winogrand's work lies in his two principal descriptive measuresinclusion and comparison. It would be a mistake to dismiss the backgrounds of Winogrand's images as irrelevant visual noise. Rather, by using a wide-angle lens and incorporating numerous details into his frame, Winogrand further developed the meaning and relevance of his subject matter. Winogrand's proof sheets make it clear that the photographer would often tilt his camera first one way and then the other, trying to find the configuration of facts that would best express the force of the energies that were his subjects.

At first glance, his photographs appear to be random observations, but they express the photographer's attitudes toward his subjects, from sympathy to gentle humor to sarcasm. Much to Winogrand's surprise, the Women are Beautiful portfolio was not a commercial success for the artist. (left: Garry Winogrand (American, 1928-1984), Untitled from Women are Beautiful, 1975, Gelatin silver print, Tampa Museum of Art Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Osterweil)

All images in this exhibition are untitled and taken from the Women are Beautiful portfolio, published in 1975.

Garry Winogrand: Women are Beautiful will be at the Tampa Museum of Art through July 23, 2000.

Read more about the Tampa Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 2/4/11

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