Sunday, December 7, 2008

Garry Winogrand: The Sixties @ The Fraenkel Gallery

B&W works from the 1960s. Winogrand was one of the most influential photographers of his time (whose work I had never encountered before this exhibition). His work reminded me of Diane Arbus’ (who was also on exhibition here) because of the focus on people in their contexts, but with much more focus on the context- the era and the places where he was shooting. Two photos in particular struck me: He Had It: John F. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 1960, and Los Angeles 1969. In the first image (above), we are seeing JFK from behind and, through the wonder of the video age, from the front; we are seeing the photographers aiming their cameras from behind a metal enclosure and the image they are capturing. We are also seeing this moment of leadership and hope as if amplified by the light reflecting off Kennedy’s face and raised hand. In Los Angeles in 1960, 3 women with black bouffants are wandering down Hollywood boulevard. They are looking down and to their right and we can wonder if they are noticing the Hollywood stars on the pavement or perhaps glancing at their own reflections in a large window. More probably they are seeing the figure of a disabled man drooping in his wheelchair as a little boy sitting at the nearby bustop is staring at him. But alongside all these interconnections, I am largely drawn to the geometric patterns of the shadows cast before the women, lining up in perfect symmetry with the stars on the pavement and I wonder if the man in the wheelchair sees them too. These images, as with Tama Hochbaum’s work, capture various aspects and the complexity of their subjects, also creating multiple frames within the image, but this time through the magic of a single shot. To see the second image go here:

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