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The Photography Department kicked off its fall lecture series on September 10 with a lineup of prominent speakers who came together in Pratt Institute’s Higgins Hall to discuss the cultural legacy of Garry Winogrand, the renowned American photographer. Winogrand is currently being celebrated with a major retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that offers a complete overview of the photographer’s working life on view through September 21.

The evening featured Leo Rubinfien, a photographer and writer who guest-curated the Garry Winogrand exhibition; Jeff L. Rosenheim, curator in charge of photography at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Susan Kismaric, former curator of photography at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Thomas Roma, a photographer and director of the Photography Department at Columbia University.

Each of the speakers knew Winogrand through unique circumstances during different periods of his life. Their conversation provided Pratt students with an exceptional opportunity to consider Winogrand's significance not only in terms of history and culture, but also in terms of their own work,” said Photography Chair Stephen Hilger, who organized the event. Hilger also led a special gallery tour of the Winogrand exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in July.

Rubinfien gave an eloquent talk titled “The Reasons for Winogrand” that highlighted the significance of the photographer and his work. Rubinfien, who is known as a protégé of Winogrand, provided context for the prolific artist’s work as a slideshow of black-and-white photographs was projected overhead to a packed auditorium. Rubinfien described Winogrand’s start as a magazine photographer and eventual career as a chronicler of daily life in America.

“When I think of Winogrand, I think of a man of exceptional truthfulness,” said Rubinfien, who described the photographer’s objective as seeking to capture life as it happened, along with all of the joy and despair that went along with it. Rubinfien also discussed the criticism that Winogrand’s work has faced, noting that some have called his photographs formless, vulgar, and perplexing.

Following the talk, Kismaric, Rosenheim, and Roma joined Rubinfien in sharing their personal recollections of Winogrand. A lively question and answer session, moderated by Hilger, concluded the program.

Main image: Garry Winogrand, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1957, © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco