Before there were famous modern-day street photographers like Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, there was Garry Winogrand.
Never heard of him? Honestly, neither had we. But Winogrand was one of the most influential and prolific urban shutterbugs of the 20th century. And now there is a captivating retrospective of his life’s work at the SFMOMA.
Throughout the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Winogrand captured American life on the streets of major cities, exploring the complex social issues of those tumultuous eras. He was fascinated by how people behaved in public--whether at presidential rallies or in Western boomtowns.
The exhibit is sweeping and showcases Winogrand’s ability to relay an incredible range of emotional depth in his photos, which waver between exuberant and disturbing, historic and intimate.
We were entranced by one photo in particular, entitled "Coney Island, New York, ca. 1952." In it, a young man hoists a woman up above the water--such a carefree gesture, and yet the photo pulsates with an animalistic energy and simultaneous vulnerability.
As Winogrand said before he died in 1984, “Sometimes I feel like the world is a place I bought a ticket to. It’s a big show for me, as if it wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t there with a camera.”