An illuminating portfolio of the work of photographer Garry Winogrand (1928-1984), who died more than three decades ago but is being rediscovered.
If nothing else, Winogrand deserves to be remembered for a near-iconic sports photograph that he took in Austin, Texas, in 1974, capturing all 22 players in a football game. He had long since given up the telephoto lens; in his commentary text, Dyer (White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World, 2016, etc.) notes that “he will lose interest in it so completely that he’ll give it away,” using the wide-angle almost exclusively. The effect is stunning. Influenced by Robert Frank, the Swiss-born American photographer of found scenes, Winogrand gave the impression of being an accidental, “street” photographer. Certainly, as this excellent selection of photographs shows, he captured plenty of odd moments: stoned-out dudes loom blearily over beauty queens, hippies and greasers brawl (“in the realm of aggro,” Dyer brightly notes, “sandals put one at a radical practical and psychological disadvantage”), people mill about on the streets, proving Dyer’s observation that Winogrand “was a great photographer of people walking.” Like all photographers, though, Winogrand was too obsessive-compulsive to rely entirely on accidents. Dyer scores good points here and there in guessing at the meaning behind Winogrand’s images. He wanted to ask, speaking of accident, why this and not that, why this minute instead of another? He was also a photographer of types: beauties, old ladies, pensive and well-dressed men, and sometimes people taking pictures of other people. The photographs speak for themselves—and good thing, for Dyer’s text too easily descends into posturing and empty philosophizing, and his comment on an African-American man wearing a leather jacket is about as lit-crit silly as they come: “There is a hint…of radicalized racial politics, even if this is only conveyed, on a sunny day, by the brother’s leather jacket, a vestimentary leftover from the heydays of the Panthers.”
Despite the sometimes puffed-up text, this is a necessary addition to any library of photography.