Thursday, September 18, 2014

Women are Beautiful by Garry Winogrand

Hailed as a pioneer of the "snapshot aesthetic," Garry Winogrand used a wide-angle lens on his Leica M4 camera to produce spontaneous images emphasizing how everyday subjects, like people, dogs, or crowds, interact with the landscape around them. His work features oblique perspectives, often resulting in awkwardly composed photographs made by the stealthy eye of a private investigator. However, Winogrand is also routinely criticized for exploiting the subjects of his work. In particular, his 1975 publication Women are Beautiful features eighty-five photographs of young adult women. The pictures taken mainly around the streets and parks of New York. At the same time, in their obsession with—and helpless lust for—the female form and spirit, the pictures are also an uninhibited confession. The grinning title of the work, and the camera's shameless focus on tightly wrapped girlish bodies, with an emphasis on breasts and crotches, seemed designed to incite feminists. Many of them have been glad to oblige him.

Winogrand wrote in his book, “Whenever I’ve seen an attractive woman, I’ve done my best to photograph her. I don’t know if all the women in the photographs are beautiful, but I do know that the women are beautiful in the photographs. By the term ‘attractive woman,’ I mean a woman I react to, positively… I do not mean as a man getting to know a woman, but as a photographer photographing.

(via Worcester Art Museum)

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