What Garry Winogrand Saw in Color

Even after all these years, every picture feels new, and newly seen, like he’d just caught sight of these people in this place and had barely stopped to snap the shot before moving on. When Szarkowski, a crucial supporter, organized “Winogrand: Figments from the Real World,” the first major posthumous Winogrand show, at MOMA, in 1988, he included several blown-up contact sheets. Some viewers saw them as inappropriately revealing of Winogrand’s process; I found them fascinating. On the evidence of those gridded images, Winogrand was constantly on the move. Every shot jumps ahead at least half a block and finds an entirely new focus from the one before. The pace is manic, voracious, and frequently pointless; whole sheets could easily be tossed (many Winogrand never even looked over). But then he stops to capture a moment at a party or in a milling crowd or at the zoo which is so weird and lovely and ineffable that you have to stop, too, and wonder how he did it.

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