A documentary about an important American still photographer who captured New York City in the 1960s (his work there is said to have influenced the TV show Mad Men) and later the West in Texas and Los Angeles.
Slant Magazine wrote:
Detailing Garry Winogrand’s rise to prominence in the 1960s photographing the streets of New York and later Texas and California, Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable also covers various epochs in the American art world and politics and culture at large. As the documentary reminds us, Winogrand started his career in the ‘50s as a freelance photojournalist and advertising photographer. He learned to value economy in framing as well as the value of “lens description,” which suggests a prioritizing of crisp, coherent detail over expressionism. As Winogrand came into his own, defining himself as an artist as well as a professional, he merged lens detail with chaotic abstraction, forging an aesthetic that was uniquely equipped to render the social upheavals in American life in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
Winogrand’s career paralleled the art world’s occupation with great white men looking to create iconic American art. (More than once, All Things Are Photographable mentions the stout, manly Winogrand’s resemblance to Norman Mailer.) As art became more ironic and self-interrogating against the backdrop of multiple civil rights movements, as well as more suspicious of white men’s dominion over pop culture as official tastemakers, Winogrand became passé, slipping into obscurity and digging deeper into his own head, snapping thousands of pictures that weren’t developed until after his death in 1984. When these photos were finally exhibited, even Winogrand’s greatest and most influential admirer, the legendary photography curator and critic John Szarkowski, proclaimed them to be failures.
In All Things Are Photographable, director Sasha Waters Freyer relates this narrative via a traditional documentary aesthetic, merging interviews with prominent photographers and critics with a vast collection of Winogrand’s photographs. The interviews are intelligent and searching, but it’s Freyer’s worshipful devotion to the photographs that gives the film its vitality. Though he disputed this claim, saying that all pictures were concerned with stillness, Winogrand was a master of movement, or perhaps of movement interrupted. Rich in sharp, canted angels and frames that deliberately obscure portions of a given subject, Winogrand’s art captures both the stifling perpetual motion and the fleeting grace notes of modern American life. Some of his images, such as the famous photograph of three sexy women walking down a street against a ray of sunlight, looking at a man in a wheelchair who’s slumped off to the side of the frame in darkness, seem to effortlessly conjure all of society’s potentialities for transcendence and damnation.
Winogrand explored the warts of human life, including his own lust, one of the many subjects of his 1975 book Women Are Beautiful, which candidly captures women in many aspects of daily life: carrying children, stepping onto curbs, or eating ice cream cones. There are also many photographs in this collection of women’s bodies in somewhat eroticized poses, and the shots remain controversial for their intimation of the male gaze. Whether we’re still allowed to admit that men view women through a sexual lens or not, this element of life nevertheless exists, and such desire cannot be willed away with think pieces. Hence “all things are photographable”—a philosophy that, in Winogrand’s case, also includes images of daring, perhaps tasteless, racial caricature. Freyer’s subjects are admirably unresolved on Women Are Beautiful and other collections, criticizing as well as praising Winogrand for his willingness to plumb the taboo. (And these discussions are comforting for those who feel that art needn’t be “good” for you.)
Freyer’s film floats from topic to topic, offering a lively arts lesson that benefits, as a filmic narrative, from the ghostly power of Winogrand’s later photos, which were taken spontaneously, often with his young daughter sitting on his shoulders. Using these underrated pictures, which capture the diaphanous cultures of Texas and Los Angeles, Freyer forges a poignant portrait of an artist attempting to transcend the limitations of his art by refusing to see the process through. By relegating his art to the snapping of compositions, omitting their refinement and completion, Winogrand kept his life in the present tense, perhaps in his ultimate act of rebellion against self-censorship. One might say that Winogrand achieved the ultimate artistic transcendence, or that he bit off his nose to spite his face. In Everything is Photographable, Freyer allows these potentialities to coexist.
2.83GB | 1 h 31 min | 1280×720 | mkv