press release

Besides showing Winogrand’s principal works, the exhibition also features work by Lee Friedlander, Mitch Epstein, Joel Meyerowitz and Henry Wessel. The presentation provides a unique overview of one of the most influential movements in postwar photography, that of American street photography in the 1960s and ’70s. Winogrand was beyond doubt the leading proponent of this movement, and one of the greatest photographers of the second half of the twentieth century. Averse to traditions and conventions he and his generation brought a new sense of visual order to the chaos of street life in the big city. New York City was their natural biotope, the place where they could record modern American culture. Intractable, radical, confrontational and innovative.

Works by Winogrand are featured from his famous series ‘Women are Beautiful’, from ‘The Animals’ and individual pictures each of which has itself become an icon in photographic history. Unique works by Winogrand’s close friends Friedlander and Wessel are shown, many of which have never appeared in the Netherlands before, including work from Friedlander’s influential first series Self Portraits. Unique colour prints by Epstein and Meyerowitz from the same period are also shown, including exceptional vintage dye transfers.

Garry Winogrand (1928-1989) has been hailed the ultimate chronicler of modern American life since the early 1960s. Working exclusively with 35-mm film and natural light, Winogrand wandered the streets of New York every day photographing the people he encountered in his inimitable apparently accidental and unaffected way. He was obsessive, searching for his prey like a hunter, giving new meaning to the term ‘snapshot’. His reply, when asked why he photographed, is famous: because he wanted to know what things looked like when they were photographed. For him, a photo was not a representation of something; it encapsulated in a simplified form an entire world. Beauty was never his aim: in many of his photos the horizon is crooked, the images are sharply cropped and the compositions are bizarre. Yet they capture life in the metropolis like never before. Many of his photos are simultaneously satirical, humorous and disturbing.

Lee Friedlander (b. 1934) was one of Winogrand’s closest friends and a photographer of comparable stature. He also earned his spurs in the early 1960s as a leading photographer of modern America. His complex, multi-layered images combine commentary on American society with a critical approach to the two-dimensional character of the photographic surface, thereby undermining contemporary visual conventions. Typical of his work is his ability to show objects and people in puzzling, even surrealist arrangements. Even more than Winogrand, Friedlander plays an intellectual game with the viewer. A highlight is his Self Portrait series, taken in 1970.

Henry Wessel (b. 1942) was another friend of Winogrand. In 1973 he held his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work is less rough and coarse than Winogrand’s. His photos are more like considered observations of life in the United States. Whereas Winogrand and Friedlander focused specifically on real people and relationships, Wessel’s subjects are often the typical American settings themselves.

Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938) is another of the original street photographers. In the 1960s he wandered the streets of New York together with his hero Winogrand. Above all, Meyerowitz championed the use of colour photography. Unique items include the so-called dye transfers he made in the ’60s and ’70s. A number of authentic prints from this period are shown in the exhibition. Meyerowitz has also written several books, including I Bystander: A History of Street Photography.

Mitch Epstein (b. 1952) represents a slightly later generation of American street photographers. In the 1970s he took lessons from Winogrand, who became a major influence on his work. After a long journey through the United States he returned to the East Coast in 1974. This exhibition features colour prints from Epstein’s early years.

only in german

Garry Winogrand and the american street photographers

Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Mitch Epstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Henry Wessel