Winogrand’s work has come to express a new understanding of the difference between the kinds of meaning that could be defined in words and those that might be proposed in pictures. His perception challenged the conventional distinction between documentary and creative photography, and the terms of critical discourse that were based on that distinction. —John Szarkowski
Among the earliest photographs on view is a 1953 impressionistic study of the Metropolitan Opera Bar which presages Winogrand’s interest with public events. The exhibition also includes some very early studies of women which eventually evolved into a body of work known as “Women are Beautiful.” The photographs on exhibit span Winogrand’s career, ending with his influential documents of peace demonstrations, political protest rallies, Marilyn Monroe, and an unpublished picture of Ali McGraw as she contributes money to a blind man.
From the mid-fifties on, Winogrand’s personal “New Documentary” photographs of densely packed moments won him acclaim as an important chronicler of contemporary American life. In his photographs, both the world’s extraordinary complexity and the sharp, sensual delights of seeing are as evident as the obsessions of a particular man.