NEW YORK, NY.- Garry Winogrand: Color sheds new light on the influential career of twentieth-century photographer Garry Winogrand (1928-1984) as the first exhibition dedicated to the artist’s color photographs. While almost exclusively known for his black-and-white images that pioneered a “snapshot aesthetic” in contemporary art, Winogrand also produced more than 45,000 color slides between the early 1950s and late 1960s. The exhibition features an enveloping installation of seventeen projections comprising more than 450 rarely or never-before seen color photographs that demonstrate the artist’s commitment to color, with which he experimented for nearly 20 years. Also included are 25 gelatin silver photographs drawn from the Museum’s extensive holdings of works by the artist.
“Continuing the Museum’s commitment to canon-expanding exhibitions, Garry Winogrand: Color is an exciting opportunity to rethink not only the work of an influential artist but also the history of color photography and its modes of presentation before 1970,” says curator Drew Sawyer. “Upon his sudden death at the age of 56, Winogrand left behind a prodigious and unresolved estate that is only beginning to be fully explored, as is evident from the numerous exhibitions, books, and even a documentary film on him in recent years. Predicting photographic practices of today, he photographed nearly everything, often leaving the editing of his pictures to others. Building on recent scholarship, this exhibition provides a long-overdue examination of another aspect of Winogrand’s ‘unfinished’ work, which in addition to the 45,000 color slides includes more than 6,000 rolls of unedited black-and-white film.”
Winogrand displayed his color photographs as a slide show in the landmark exhibition New Documents (1967) at the Museum of Modern Art, which also included the work of Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. The installation of 80 color slides, however, was removed after the projector malfunctioned, and little is known about its content. One of the projectors in the Brooklyn Museum exhibition will feature color slides selected from 83 duplicate slides that Winogrand made between November 1966 and February 1967 – possibly images that the artist prepared specifically for New Documents.
Coming from a working-class background in the Bronx and active at the time when photographs had little market value, Winogrand did not have the resources to produce costly and time-consuming color prints. Despite this, he remained committed to the medium, often carrying around two cameras at once: one with black-and-white film and one with Kodachrome color film. Many of his well-known works in black-and-white have accompanying color images, shot just moments apart from each other. While the black-and-white images went on to become celebrated examples of the burgeoning snapshot aesthetic, the color ones were mostly overlooked.
Winogrand began shooting with color film in the early 1950s as a photojournalist for publications like Sports Illustrated and Collier’s, examples of which are included in the exhibition. Eventually, he found ways to use the industrially manufactured color film as an artistic tool, aping the commercial and amateur uses of the medium and investigating the poetic potential of color, resulting in candid images that pushed the limits of recognizable fine art photography at the time. He also worked to instill a greater respect for color photography in future generations of artists.
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