Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garry Winogrand the 4th, "To Live and Die in LA"

Of the 175 photos at the Garry Winnogrand exhibit, 56 are posthumously printed. Garry Winogrand died at the age of 56.

Coincidence, I think not.

Here are two of the posthumous photos.

Los Angeles, 1980-1983: Garry Winogand
It is the beginning of the Reagan era and there is no turning back. This woman of uncertain age....(is she 30 or 60) sets sail against the win her hair and dress flow beyond the traffic. A car pulls away. A sign is part of the tangle. There is open sky but it has a haze... from the photo's exposure, pollution, or  our sense of a personal LA.

The woman turns to look; at a friend, a stranger, a lover or a threat. She does not give her self away. She is in control and is deciding which way to turn.

Los Angeles, 1980-1983: Garry Winogand

This photo is so bleak that it looks staged. A woman lies dead or fallen on Sunset Boulevard as a Porsche convertible drives by. In the subsequent 35 years of art, movies, photoshop, and internet, I have been frequently misled by images some of which are true, other are lies. Is this a shot of despair, neglect or hopelessness? Or journalistic distance capturing a single moment in time. 

Did Winogrand ever see this shot? Did he see it and reject as being too grim for display?

It is part of the mystery of posthumous printing. Part of the mystery of art and image.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garry Winogrand: III: The Drunken Women of Fort Worth (note the click bait title)

After hanging around New York, taking photos in various boroughs from 1949 to 1971, Gary Winogrand needed a job. In 1971 Winogrand began teaching, first at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design (through 1972) and then at the University of Texas at Austin (1973–78), before moving to Los Angeles. " Preceding comes from the Encyclopedia Britannica which is some sort of Wikipedia imitator.  (check out the article on Winogrand , it's much more thorough than this blog) 

Texas gave Winogrand a new set of faces and places to unfold before him. 

I find in the relationship of the hands and faces a tangle of emotion, abandon, and surprise. Through the hands, the women express their concerns about the photograph, the setting and each other.

#1 seems to be reaching for an earring. She wants to go back to normality or maybe she wants to go home.

#2's hand is comfortable on #3's shoulder just above her left breast.

#3 has got some serious length in her arms. Her right hand holds the fascinating cigarette and her left, bracelet clad arm is soddenly grabbed by #4 who holds on for dear life.

Contrast Fort Worth with the photograph used to publicize the Winogrand exhibit at the Met.

1955: El Morocco, New York

It is a powerful contrast. Is it East and West? The post-war American triumphalism or the Viet-Nam era fatalistic party time. Intensity or casual slackness?

If you are interested in street photography, you can check out Downtown at Dawn for more a contemporary look at city, citizens and visitors of New York.

You can also read Eric Kim Street Photography. This guy is way into Winogrand and the art form.

Good stuff.

Garry Winogrand #2: Untitled: Blogger in the dark

Garry Winogrand, Untitled [Sailor on Street], 1950; At SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

The internet does not do this photo justice. The interplay of dark and light, the loneliness and freedom are not captured by the computer monitor. When I saw the print of the photo at the Met, the image struck me as so metaphorical that I couldn't hardly believe it. (Also it is a blast to be at the Met. I am not dissing the Art Institute but the Met is way bigger. And it has the temple of Dendor)

Selfie at Temple of Dendor.

Lonely sailors at home. Great theme right. Is this guy relieved to be on dry land or terrified at being in the strange land called home?

What strikes me are the street lights playing against the gray of the sky. The sailor is walking away from the light. Somewhere the kid (GW)from Bronx is snapping his photo. The composition is painterly. And so real that I can hear the next footfall that he takes on the street.

Is it optimism or abject resignation? It is a picture of a guy on a deserted street but what is the sailor thinking.

Garcia and Grisman's drunken sailor. (start of 40 second to avoid tuning)

Or the Village People's very happy mariner. (as interpreted by the Muppets)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Garry Winogrand, At the aquarium...

One of the places Garry Winogrand enjoyed taking pictures was the aquarium. Which we all agree is a picturesque place, albeit a place with lighting issues.

What are you looking at?

The Garry Winogrand Archive, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona

It is a photo of a man cleaning a glass tank whilst a whale of some kind swims past him. I see the whale's face but not the man's. The whale's eye is optically the center of the photo. The  triptych of the three windows are the whale's past, present and future. He sees into the present neither looking back or ahead.

The window washers blade forms a cross with the whale's mouth. We think of Jesus, of Jonah and the Whale, and the wretched voyage of the Pequod occasioned by a shot of a whale swimming alone in his tank.

The photographer's art is the exchange of images. The camera shows what is and the viewer decides what it means. 

Winnogrand is quoted as saying, "Sometimes I feel like . . . the world is a place I bought a ticket to. It’s a big show for me, as if it wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t there with a camera."

What great artist isn't a narcissist? 

And what great artist doesn't have some dude in a suit giving him the fish eyes.

Monday, July 7, 2014

There is a tavern in the town etc.

The 773 Lounge is an Irish Pub on 773 Coney Island Blvd, in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Ditmas Park is right next to Kensington and Flatbush. I can't judge all of Ditmas Park by the 773 Lounge. But Brooklyn is not all artisanal mayonnaise. (although I had a wonderful curry mustard at another place) Not if the 773 still stands.

We opened the door  and everyone at the bar... 6 men, 2 or 3 women. (One slipped in after I thought of writing this down. Sorry) turned to us. Stopped. And resumed their conversations. A few looked at his. A couple even older than I  gave us the once over. Especially the lady. She drank Rolling Rock from the bottle.

The bartender introduced himself. "I'm John. Let me know if you need anything. Wave, whistle, whatever. What can I get you?"

He poured my drink, healthily and drew a Guinness for my companion. The Yankees were on 2 of the 6 screens. Naturally on either end of the bar. The young pitcher they acquired from Japan faced the Minnesota Twins and they seemed to be hitting him pretty good. It's hard to concentrate on the Yankees.

 Against a far wall were camera phone looking images on the biggest screen of Karaoke singing, waving of arms, and people having what seemed to be a good time at this very lounge.

We ordered food at a window cut out of wall at the back of the place which I think was called the Food Shack. Cheese Pizzette (which is Ditmas Park for small pizza) and veggie quesadillas. While we waited for our food, we spoke to a gent and told him we were from Chicago. (Well, I was born in Chicago nearly 60 years ago)

"I love Chicago. It's my favorite city. Wrigley Field. I love it. It's the best place ever."

"Why did you visit Chicago?" We asked.

"Chicago. I love Wrigley field...."

This went on for some time but not too much time. He seemed like a good hearted person who probably drank too much. But what the f.... do I know? No shortage of cursing at the 773 Lounge.

The 773 Lounge has the reputation of being a "dive" bar. In fact, it is said to be one of the 18 best dive bars in Brooklyn. (click to see this list).

To me, it's a bar and perhaps I'll visit on my next trip to Brooklyn.

Oh right, and probably see my grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law.