El Morocco, New York

Artist: Garry Winogrand (American, 1928–1984)

Date: 1955

Medium: Gelatin silver print

Dimensions: 23.5 x 33.7 cm (9 1/4 x 13 1/4 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.5107

Rights and Reproduction: © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco


El Morocco was one of New York's hottest nightclubs in the 1950s—a perfect site for Garry Winogrand to test his talents as a street-smart photographer working for "Harper's Bazaar," "Collier's," "Pageant," and "Sports Illustrated." Like his earlier pictures of the prizefighter Floyd Patterson in the ring, this photograph of a couple dancing explodes the idea of the snapshot. Focusing on his subjects' telling responses (here the face and hands revealing a ferocious animal spirit), Winogrand introduced a new, exceedingly confrontational style of 35mm photography. Direct, invasive, yet intuitively choreographed, this approach soon placed the artist alongside Robert Frank as one of the preeminent street photographers of the day.