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awareness of a photograph

October 11, 2007

Photograph by Gary Winogrand, World’s fair, New York City, 1964.

“The crystalline clarity of Garry Winogrand’s awareness of a photograph cutting through motion and time makes this image of people interacting on a bench absolutely riveting. The quality and intensity of a photographer’s attention leave their imprint on the mental level of the photograph. This does not happen by magic.”

This is what Stephen Shore writes in his book ‘The Nature of Photographs‘ (2007 Phaidon) about Winogrand’s celebrated picture above. And these comments, with their simplicity and power, have captured my attention. More than any debate whether this was a posed or unposed photograph, especially given the artist’s preference for a casual and rather poorly executed pictures.

A catalogue of the Museum of Modern Art stated about this photograph, according to this review, that “in addition to the physical description the work provides – the pattern of legs, the leans and whispers – it also alludes to broader human relationships and suggest the coexistence of two parallel worlds: the specific and intimate reality of the women clustered on the park bench and the anonymous presence of the crowds visible in the distance.”

Besides all and any meanings found in this image, those first words about perception keep coming back… ‘the awareness of a photograph cutting through motion and time’…


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