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Cindy Sherman at MoMA, 1997

[Toward the tail end of my decade as the photography critic for the New York Observer I had the opportunity to review the Museum of Modern Art’s celebration of Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” series, a complete set of which they had recently acquired and were showing for the first time, in an exhibition sponsored […]

New Documents, Revisited (b)

Collectively, Arbus, Friedlander, and Winogrand revised the ways in which photographers used their cameras, which changed the look of the resulting photographs, and that they made the photographer’s participatory role in the photographic event a foregrounded given, which transformed both the behavior of photographers and the way we interpret their work. […]

New Documents, Revisited (a)

This non-political, anti-theoretical posture denies categorically and consistently that such photographs are in any way about their literal subject matter, insisting instead that photographs are entirely about themselves and in no way concerned with either the photographer’s inner life or whatever took place in front of the lens at the moment of exposure. As a stance, it became not just widespread but almost mandatory among practitioners of this genre of photography. […]

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. […]