Established as an independent curatorial department in 1992, the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Photographs houses a collection of more than twenty-five thousand works spanning the history of photography from its invention in the 1830s to the present. Among the treasures from the early years of the medium are a rare album of photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot made just months after he presented his invention to the public; a large collection of portrait daguerreotypes by the Boston firm of Southworth and Hawes; landscape photographs of the American West by Timothy O'Sullivan and Carleton Watkins; and fine examples of French photography from the 1850s by Edouard Baldus, Charles Nègre, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, and others.
Posted: Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Artists often tell us that the Met is their favorite museum to visit, and their comments on works in the collection are among the most insightful one can hear (see, for instance, the fantastic results of The Artist Project, where a hundred artists respond to objects in the Museum's galleries are being assembled—forty episodes are already up). I was thrilled, then, when my colleagues Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser and Stephanie Herdrich asked for my advice last January about living artists they might approach to contribute to the Audio Guide for Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. I agreed with them that an artist's voice, particularly in the context of an exhibition of a painter's portraits of his friends and acquaintances, would be vital and exciting.
Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015
Yosemite is one of the United States' most popular national parks. It is no shock that Carleton Watkins wanted to photograph the park, with its breathtaking waterfalls, towering trees, and high rocky cliffs. But back in the mid-nineteenth century this was not an easy task. All of his photographs were produced on albumen silver prints from a glass negative—a very rarely seen, old-time photography technique.
Posted: Friday, September 19, 2014
Growing up in the midst of the digital age, where technology is constantly advancing, my conception of the past is ever-changing. For example, my initial interest in digital photography led me to look further into film photography, but after discovering the visually stunning work of Garry Winogrand currently on view at the Met, my views on film photography have already been altered.
Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014
What do a tropical bird, fruit, and a new box of crayons all have in common? Well, they're bright and full of color, of course—something that can't be found within the array of photographs in the Met's current exhibition Garry Winogrand, on view through September 21. Growing up, I was always told, "Not everything is black and white…" But who says it can't be?
Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014
1. (of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization.
1.1. relating to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals. "digital TV"
1.2. involving or relating to the use of computer technology. "the digital revolution"
noun; plural noun: stories
1. an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. "an adventure story"
And that's just what a photograph is, a digital story, right?
Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014
There is no doubt that photography deserves to be considered an art form. Just like painting, sculpture, and countless other media, it dares you as a photographer to see things in ways no one has before. It allows you to be unique and capture life around you. Artists were doing this for centuries before the first camera was even invented. However, with the advent of photography, for the first time moments could be captured in a flash. A subject did not need to hold still for a painter or pose endlessly for a sculptor. Photography broke down the facade and revealed moments of life more accurately than ever before. Garry Winogrand was able to show this through thousands of his candid street shots. Most people did not realize that they were being photographed, showing real expressions instead of posing with a phony smile.
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
In a taped 1977 interview at Rice University, Garry Winogrand sits before a panel of students in the most casual position: his feet are propped up onto the podium before him and he leans back, relaxed, with his hands behind his head—the ultimate posture of a carefree New Yorker. Winogrand's conversational and, at times, sarcastic tone reveals how he does not take himself too seriously. In his answers, he makes his photographic process seem quite simple: a matter of waiting for spontaneity and a having a quick eye to capture it. Despite his quick pace when photographing, Winogrand was able to give his chance encounters great meaning, effectively using light and interesting angles to powerfully capture the fast-moving American culture.
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2014
Garry Winogrand constantly contemplated and experimented with society's notions of beauty, especially its views on women. He once said that the reason we photograph is "to learn who we are and how we feel." I think his photographs are less about the subject and more about the society that surrounds them. Women, from the moment they step out of their houses, are expected to maintain a certain standard of self-presentation and appearance. Winogrand photographed women who were in this "presentable" state but shot them candidly, not posed. He took away the subject's ability to consciously present herself, capturing the space between her inner, subconscious beauty and societal preconceptions of it.
Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
I consider Garry Winogrand's photographs found in the current exhibition of his work to be a collection of perfect mistakes. "Perfect" because, even though the subject is often not posing or even looking straight at the camera, there is something about the picture that makes it incredibly engaging. The very same picture can simultaneously feel like a "mistake," however, since it may capture people who are either unaware they are being photographed or are unhappy about it. In some cases, it feels to me like Winogrand accidentally pressed the shutter button. Normally people have to pose or look at the camera in order for a photograph to be considered successful, but Winogrand instead intended to capture these unguarded people and moments.
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Garry Winogrand's street photography, currently on view in an eponymous exhibition at the Museum, is often astonishingly candid and real. But would he have been able to use his distinct style today? The Internet has made it easier than ever to share photos and spread them around. But it's also made people far more self-conscious when being photographed and, dare I say, more frightened of the camera.