Social Media: The Winogrand Effect

I read an interesting article in New York magazine by Jerry Saltz titled, “Photographing Through The Cracks: Garry Winogrand captured America as it split wide open.” It discusses an exhibition of the street photographer’s work currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The last paragraph stood out because it made me think about the future of art; the formal study of photography; the role of curator; and social media’s role in propelling a new generation of self-taught photographers. Here’s the quote:

“The whole world is now filled with incredible images–especially on Instagram and other social networks–that owe something to Winogrand’s, documenting life, change, and all the rest. Yet the art world and museums are not. Instead they tend to show oversize, very still pictures or images that investigate formal properties and ideas of display and presentation. I love many of those pictures, but what’s happening online on social media deserves far more serious scrutiny than it’s getting. If the art world doesn’t admit more of this sort of deceptively casual-seeming work, the outside world will reject more so-called art photography than it already does. That’s a divide that we don’t need to reestablish and widen.”


St. Isaac's Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (with a Nikon)

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (on an angle with a Nikon and prime lens. I should add that my sister took amazing photos of the same cupola with an iPhone.).

6 thoughts on “Social Media: The Winogrand Effect

  1. Do you personally feel like you judge the genres of photography differently? I know I don’t. If it catches my eye, it catches my eye and I would guess that eventually, the art displays will have to catch up with what the consumers want or they won’t get any business. I don’t see it as one form of art being more elite…I see it as supply and demand. If heaps of people come in for an exhibit of modern photography, they’ll keep bringing in those types of exhibits to keep the money flowing.

    • No, I don’t judge photography differently. I also feel I have seen more interesting images on social media than on gallery walls. So, how does one get around that? Does it involve convincing modern art galleries? Does it mean setting up a different kind of gallery altogether? What about education in elevating skill sets and feeding passions — will this give budding photographers a chance? Is social media just a stepping stone? These are all questions I am asking myself to shape my point of view…

  2. Unless the big galleries can find a way monetize them, these Internet photographs will never find their way onto gallery walls. And art museums are notoriously conservative; after all, their patrons are wealthy. There are exceptions, of course.

  3. Hi, Marina, so great to see you here again and open an interesting discussion there. I am kind of very bias about the social media photography, naturally as a professional photographer…… Have you seen Vivian Maier’s exhibition , recently is was again displayed in a L.A. Art Gallery. She was a most interesting street photographer, included in her social issues as well, back some decades. If you haven’t, google her work, her life history and how her work is now becoming very famous, after some guy discovered hundrets of B&W rolls undeveloped.
    Greetings from the other end of California

    • Dear Cornelia, hello! So good to read from you! I just looked at Vivian Maier’s work and it is excellent. Visually arresting. That would be a wonderful exhibit and I will see if it is still running. What do you think about Instagram and other social media for gallery exhibits? I think a hotel actually did use Instagram pictures to decorate their lobby. And, I know magazines feature Instagram photos. I’m so divided on the issue.

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