Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Everything real eventually yellows

Winogrand's obituary was posted last week on Photo Ephemera, almost twenty-five years to the day after he died.

It's interesting to see this reproduced as a photocopy of a physical object. Quick poll: when Helen Levitt died recently how many read her obituary in a physical newspaper? I'm guessing not many. If you're like me you read it online, either on the New York Times site or some other digital version. Maybe you went out later and bought a physical copy as a souvenir but that was after you'd read it online. So to see an actual obituary snipped from newsprint and yellowing like a poorly fixed photograph is a flash from the past, one which seems to mesh with Winogrand's era and his oeuvre. Few things in this life are more tangible than the dateline above an obituary. Stepping in puddles, sex, good street photos, ...maybe some other things but not many. Certainly not blogging.

It's remarkable that Winogrand's his legacy hasn't changed much since 3/21/84. He is still "the central photographer of his generation," although that generation is now in its twilight. It's rare in the art world for any reputation to remain relatively unchanged for so long. Art history is malleable. Some photographers fade into obscurity over time while others are rescued from it. By contast, Winogrand's obituary is an immovable line in the sand. Take away the yellowing and it could've been published last week, which in a way it was.

1 comment:

SR said...

Alas, in the near future this fragment of paper will be no longer yellow but dust. In a similar time frame , when there may be no longer circulated papers, illustrated magazines, and only a few syndicated still images linked to short written blurbs of writing on a monitor, I wonder whether anyone will be interested in taking or viewing, or know how to respond to, still images of " immediacy and physicality".