Garry Winogrand at the Met

New York ca.1962 - Garry  Winogrand
New York ca.1962 – Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand produced numerous iconic images in his chaotic career and they can be seen are among all the others in the show of his oeuvre at The Metropolitan  Museum in NYC (through September 21, 2014.) It is a big show and must have been a monumental undertaking for the curators.  It is hard to imagine a more prolific shooter than Winogrand and people love to write about him  reciting the statistics of how many pictures he shot, how many he never even developed, etc, etc.

From the Museum’s website: “Dying suddenly at the age of 56, he left behind proof sheets from his earlier years that he had marked but never printed, as well as approximately 6,600 rolls of film (some 250,000 images) that he had never seen, more than one-third of which he had never developed at all; these rolls of film were developed after his death.”

Having seen the show I walked away with my head spinning , partly from the quality of his work and partly from the statistics.  Truman Capote famously said about Jack Kerouac’s work, “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”  And I will adapt that to say this about Winogrand’s work: “That’s not photography, that’s editing.”  When a person produces that many exposures and that many great pictures it is a monumental undertaking to sort out the ones to frame and hang.  It is often said that Winogrand didn’t edit his work but asked curators to make the selections.  He was too busy shooting, or perhaps his trigger finger was too tired.

In any case, I recommend seeing the show as a way to better understand Winogrand’s work, his troubled personality, and the stupendous accomplishment of the curators that sifted through the wheat and chaff to make the selections.  Winogrand deserves his exalted reputation, but the curators’ accomplishment in pulling together a great show from all that stuff should get equal credit for making the show superb.