In today’s world of contrived photos—hands on hips, matching smiles, “one, two, three” countdowns—we can forget about the value of a candid photograph. Able to capture a person in his or her natural state—not lined up and patiently waiting for the camera to flash—a candid photograph can capture moments that we typically take for granted. American painter-turned-photographer, Garry Winogrand (1928–1984), took candid photographs to a new level when he created his Women Are Beautiful collection—hundreds of impromptu photographs of women in the ’60s and ’70s going about their daily lives. In 1975, Winogrand published a book of the photographs using the same name.
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) exhibition, Garry Winogrand: Women Are Beautiful, began at the very end of January and will continue until September 30th—the exhibit consists of close to 50 of Winogrand’s candid photographs. The photographs, taken by Winogrand on streets or in crowds and captured with a quick-shooting 35mm Leica camera, hold seemingly ordinary shots of women laughing, talking, shopping, eating, waiting, and dancing, but underneath the simple actions of the photographs, the changing role of women within those decades can be witnessed.
The DAM exhibition notes that, “By framing a collection of actual events within the rectangular edges of a photograph, Winogrand could emphasize juxtapositions and relationships that would go unnoticed in real time, creating lively stories from mundane circumstances.” There is something to be shared about women and the era in every one of the exhibit’s photographs—viewers can see women that are the epitome of ladylike, walking in heels and clutching handbags that match their dresses, or the catalyst for change, with headbands wrapped around foreheads and outfits showing more skin than covering. This exhibition is definitely not one to miss, whether you just want to marvel at the simple, everyday beauty of women or the evolution of the role of women throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Having viewed the exhibition, I can assure you that Winogrand’s classic black-and-white photographs will not disappoint.
Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway