Mirrors and Windows – MOMA Press Release

Our course manual features an extract of the Museum of Modern Art’s press release prior to the opening of the Mirrors and Windows American Photography since 1960 exhibition.

I managed to download the entire press release and have made some brief notes about it.

  • The director of this exhibition was John Szarkowski, head of the Department of Photography at MOMA.
  • The exhibition examines the changes in the way photographers had begun to work and “proposes a new critical framework for the appreciation of contemporary photography.”
  • Photographers whose works were featured were: Diane Arbus, Paul Caponigro, Mark Cohen, Judy Dater, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Elliot Erwitt, Lee Friedlander, Ernst Haas, Robert Heinecken, Les Krims, Ray Metzker, Joel Meyerowitz, Tod Papageorge, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, George Tice, Jerry Uelsmann and Garry Winogrand.
  • The dominant motif was a “movement from public to private concerns.” Photographers post 1960 tended to pursue a more personal line of photography.
  • Metaphorically speaking the “mirror is a romantic expression of the photographer’s sensibility as it projects itself on the things and sights of this world” while a window is a photograph “through which the exterior world is explored in all its presence and reality.”
  • The 1950s marked photography’s turning point for concerns regarding social, economic and technological issues. The production of photo magazines such as Life also declined.
  • Two major influences that helped realign photography were the creation of Minor White’s Aperture magazine (the mirror) and Robert Frank’s book, The Americans (the window).
  • Leading photographers practicing the “mirror” approach were Paul Caponigro, Jerry Uelsmann, Robert Heinecken, Robert Rauschenberg.
  • Leading photographers practicing the “window” approach were Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Diane Arbus, Ray Metzker, Ed Ruscha, William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz and Stephen Shore.
  • “The mirrors-and-windows dichotomy is not a hard and fast one … it is not intended as a method of dividing recent photography into two discrete and unrelated bodies”.
Reference List

Press Release (1978). Mirrors and Windows American Photography since 1960 [online]. Available at: https://www.moma.org/momaorg/shared/pdfs/docs/press_archives/5624/releases/MOMA_1978_0060_56.pdf?2010 [Accessed 21 November, 2016]


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