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Ken Ohara: Extreme Portraits 1970-1999

Early this year Miyako Yoshinaga, a Chelsea gallerist, invited me to attend the March 2nd opening of a mini-retrospective, “Ken Ohara: Extreme Portraits 1970-1999,” and meet the photographer. She seemed surprised when I accepted. But I sensed something ceremonial about the occasion, and thought I should go. […]

Forgotten Laurels: John Szarkowski and Cornell Capa (1995)

Looking at John Szarkowski’s photographs and Cornell Capa’s, asking myself — based on that early evidence of personal tendency and taste — which of the two had surprised me most as advocates for photography by transcending the narrow-mindedness to which performers in any medium are prone in order to create an institutional environment with an atmosphere of tolerance and encouragement for all, the unequivocal answer that came was Cornell Capa. […]

Garry Winogrand: MonkeyCam Redux at the Met

How seriously are we to take the droppings of a gluttonous voyeur who spent the last seven years of his life producing a third of a million negatives without bothering to look at any of them, much less analyze them critically? This was not a photographer; this was a shooter, afflicted with a textbook case of terminal distraction, the quintessence if not the prototype of the dreaded “Hand With Five Fingers” you have surely seen in camera ads on TV. […]

Robert Heinecken as Black Sheep (2)

One obligation facing any curator engaging with Heinecken’s work for the Museum of Modern Art is to explain to the audience the pervasive influence on the medium of this museum’s Department of Photography as gatekeeper during the period 1965-85, because much of Heinecken’s activity can best be understood as an oppositional response thereto. […]

The CCP and I

In my 42 years as a critic, historian, and cultural journalist concentrating on photography, I’ve felt it necessary only twice to call publicly for the resignation of major functionaries in this field: John Szarkowski of the Museum of Modern Art (1978) and William Turnage of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Not the least of the intriguing connections here is the substantial amount of money that flowed from the latter to the former. […]