The Airport Photographs of Garry Winogrand
Edited by Alex Harris and Lee Friedlander Published by DAP, 2004
If Garry Winogrand photographed everything, all the time, as he is famous for having done, his pictures of airports convey, despite their dated hair styles and clothing, the many still very familiar sights and spaces and sensations attached to air travel. Arriving at an airport, checking baggage, watching other travelers amble, walk, and sometimes rush by, luggage trailing and flailing and neatly rolling along, passengers waiting forever on those long rows of attached seats, friends and relatives greeting each other and saying goodbye: everything that happened and stills happens in these vast public spaces. Winogrand’s airport photographs were taken over a period of 25 years, with the first frame shot around 1958 and the last in 1983, just months before his death. In Winogrand’s archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, there are hundreds of contact sheets containing airport images, and over 1,100 prints of airplanes and airports that Winogrand made during his lifetime. Edited by Alex Harris, one of the first to publish selections from this body of work, in DoubleTake magazine in 1996, and longtime friend and colleague Lee Friedlander, The Airport Pictures of Garry Winogrand assembles 86 of the photographer’s most compelling, never-before published images of travelers, flight attendants, airport waiting rooms, airplanes on runways, and all the people and places in between.
“Looking at Garry Winogrand’s photographs of airports, I am reminded of one of the early episodes of Star Trek. Captain Kirk thinks he has beamed down to an alien world. He wanders up to the first person he sees and says, ” You! What Planet is this?” And he is informed that he’s on Earth and realizes he has traveled back in time. Though Kirk wants to warn those innocents of what is to come, if he tells them he will have altered history and may lose his chance of returning to the future. Those of us looking at at the travelers in Winogrand’s airport photographs cannot offer a warning. Nor can we erase our memories of their future and our own past. We will see much of ourselves in the earthlings of this period. We will find pleasure in their company, even if that pleasure is bittersweet.”
— Alex Harris, from the preface
“Winogrand was acutely sensitive to glances, gestures, and body language, and especially to the implicit eroticism of the camera’s gaze. His inability to resist taking pleasure in the sights of the world–his compulsive yen to capture on film nearly everything he saw–is, in the end, what makes his images irresistible.”
“To this viewer [Winogrand] seems, in fact, the central photographer of his generation.”
“For Garry, airplanes, like bridges and tunnels, brought on a cold sweat. Probably he started photogrpahing seriously at airports because he had made a few good pictures at times and had recognized the airport as a way to assuage his own anxiety about the coming plane trip. He would arrive at the airport very early so as to have time to watch and then get lost in his work. What was reaped was the rich bounty held between these book covers.”