Garry Winogrand's Photographic Life After Death

If you’ll be in New York this summer, you’d be well advised to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the first major retrospective of the work of iconic photographer Garry Winogrand in nearly 30 years. This exhibition is unlike any other, however, because it’s the first to include a significant number of images that were unseen until after the artist’s death. It was known at the time of his demise in 1984 that Winogrand had been photographing prolifically, and that nearly 10,000 rolls of exposed film had never been edited by the photographer. Of those, fully one third—2,500 rolls representing more than 100,000 frames—hadn’t even been developed. Well they’ve been processed now, and edited, and of the 175 prints included in the new exhibition, 56 are posthumous discoveries that have been selected and printed by the show’s curator, Leo Rubenfien—including the example above. Until you’re able to step inside the Met for yourself, consider starting with the thoughtful critique in the New York Times, linked below, which raises a provocative discussion of whether the art of editing and printing are integral to the art of photography, and whether or not a master such as Winogrand could (or should) ever be replaced in those tasks by even the most qualified surrogate. It’s a challenging criticism that touches on another posthumous photographic body of work, the photographs of Vivian Maier that have exclusively been edited and printed by third parties. More than anything, though, the discussion is intriguing because of Winogrand’s famous comments about deliberately trying to separate the act of photographing from the act of editing. Read the Times story, then see the show, and decide for yourself.

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