Geoff Dyer’s new book, The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand, is more linear than his first, The Ongoing Moment, but no less idiosyncratic. Selecting one hundred images from among the estimated one million that the fantastically prolific street photogr
In Geoff Dyer’s first book about photography, The Ongoing Moment (2005), the English critic and novelist looked at images by a group of his favorite photographers through a prism of motifs that he believed had reoccurred like Jungian archetypes across decades and continents. How and why these mundane subjects or objects (blind people, hats, roads, clouds, benches, doors, gas stations, barber shops) had been successively reinterpreted by Paul Strand, Walker Evans, André Kertész, Eugène Atget, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, and thirty-four others formed the basis for a series of uncommonly original and engaging, if at times wayward, observations and reflections. Emulating Roland Barthes, Dyer oscillated between close readings of individual pictures and free associations. A photograph by Kertész from 1914, of an old man walking at night in Hungary, say, reminds him of a Cavafy poem because he reads both as nostalgic documents.
I also came across this uncredited biography of Winogrand on the Temple University website. I thought it was worth copying whole, but if you have to skim, don’t miss out on John Szarkowki’s final quote. As always, he said it better than anyone.