Photographer Garry Winogrand died suddenly in 1984 leaving behind a legacy of black and white images that are as timelessly human as they are truly historical. Working as a commercial photojournalist for such magazines as Argosy, Sports Illustrated and Colliers, Winogrand zeroed in on the faces of people who made the news and those teeming multitudes who were affected by it.
His images are sharp and pithy, with a disarming sense of happenstance that attests to rapid-fire timing and an eye for the succinct story. Images like a behind-the-back podium shot of John F. Kennedy making a speech while a TV monitor turned to the camera enlarges and fills in the screen with his familiar visage is eloquent and beautifully composed.
Time has had a curious effect on most of Winogrand’s photographs. It has compounded the rampant sexuality of the ‘60s documented by the “Women Are Beautiful” series of prints and added the insight of hindsight to the careers of politicians and artists pictured in his “Public Relations” series of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Some faces like George McGovern have faded from the limelight of the Capitol building, others like Jesse Jackson no longer need the photo “opportunity” of someone else’s campaign dinner to receive attention.
As closely as Winogrand followed the big names on the fast- paced celebrity circuit, he had a keen awareness of public presence. He caught the romantic idealism of the anti-war protesters who lay down in Central Park and the sense of community rooted on a park bench at the ’64 World’s Fair. As he roamed city streets of New York he found beauty in the shadow-sculpted faces of women talking earnestly on a street corner and humor in the uniformity of two business men reading the Wall Street Post. These are photographs of individuals--real people whose humanity we recognize, even when we don’t know their names. (Jan Kesner Gallery, 164 N. La Brea Ave., to Oct. 22.)
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