The Exhibit That Transformed Photography

On the fiftieth anniversary of MOMA’s landmark “New Documents” show, a new book provides the exhibition catalogue that never was.

At the end of his career, John Szarkowski, the legendary curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, quipped that Arbus, Friedlander, and Winogrand sounded more like the name of a law firm than like the names of the artists he first exhibited in 1967, in his influential show “New Documents.”

Looking at Photos the Master Never Saw

A new exhibition of Garry Winogrand’s work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes many photographs developed after his death.

“To expose film is not quite to photograph,” Mr. Szarkowski, who died in 2007, said. How can an artist evaluate his photographs, correct his working methods and present what best expresses his vision, if he has never proofed his negatives?

Was John Szarkowski the most influential person in 20th-century photography? | Sean O'Hagan

Sean O'Hagan: An insightful critic as well as a visionary curator, Szarkowski filled New York's Museum of Modern Art with the colour photography of William Eggleston, and championed the transgressive work of Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander

An insightful critic as well as a visionary curator, Szarkowski filled New York's Museum of Modern Art with the colour photography of William Eggleston, and championed the transgressive work of Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. Everyone who cares about photography is in his debt