Garry Winogrand‘s first retrospective in 25 years at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is also the first exhibition to examine the renowned photographer’s unfinished work. Dying suddenly at the age of 56, he left behind some 250,000 undeveloped negatives, as well as proof sheets that had been marked, but never printed. “Garry Winogrand,” as the show is aptly titled, includes over 300 images, half of which have never previously been exhibited, and over 100 never-before printed.
Winogrand was an epic chronicler of post-war America, and his work creates a distinctive vision of American life from the 1950s through to the early ’80s, with a good deal having been shot in and around an ever-evolving New York. Known primarily as a street photographer with an incessant appetite, he exposed some 20,000 rolls of film in his lifetime.
He called himself a “student of America,” someone who tried their hand at reading America’s people and its artifacts to see just what made them themselves. This unconventional style, which can be seen across the board in the exhibit, allows his images to provide the ordinary with a sense of novelty, and often strangeness. He showed an America that was both rich with possibility and fraught with anxiety. And although he frequently captured social change, he believed that a picture could neither change the world nor explain it.
Currently on view at SFMoMA, “Garry Winogrand” will exhibit through 2 June 2013. Once the exhibition has run its course, the impressive retrospective will travel to DC’s National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Paris’ Jeu de Paume and the Fundacion MAPFRE in Madrid.
All images courtesy of SFMOMA. Installation views by Ian Reeves. Albuquerque, 1957 and Los Angeles, ca.1980–83; gelatin silver prints by Garry Winogrand; The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco