For one more month the National Gallery is showing Garry Winogrand’s photos (exhibit home page).
Given that Winogrand worked with handheld 35mm black and white, why not simply look at the excellent books that are out there? The show does offer some interesting additional material. Probably the most significant extra is a video of Winogrand answering questions from students at Rice University (see it by following a link from the above exhibit home page). Winogrand talks about how he learned from doing, not from being taught.
If you know someone who is considering marrying a photographer and relying on that person’s income, the letter from Judy Teller on display may be a welcome caution. It seems that Teller was married to Winogrand in 1967 and divorced in 1969. In the letter, a demand for post-divorce cash, she complains of his grandiose ideas of the success that was always just around the corner. She notes that the culture at the time required a man to support his ex-wife, in particular because he had caused her to waste her prime child-bearing years (she was 28 years old at the time and did not have any children).
The exhibit shows a Guggenheim application where Winogrand explains what he wants to do (transcription here). The application is roughly 50 years old and it is interesting to see that what Winogrand thought was a crisis turned out to be a lifestyle to which Americans had no trouble adapting. (“Since World War II we have seen the spread of affluence, the move to the suburbs and the spreading of them, the massive shopping centers to serve them, cars for to and from. … Our aspirations and successes have been cheap and petty. I read the newspapers, the columnists, some books, and I look at some magazines (our press). They all deal in illusions and fantasies. I can only conclude that we have lost ourselves, …”
Related: my own street photography article.