Tuesday, 7 September 2010

John Szarkowski: Simply the best?

Was John Szarkowski really the most influential person in 20th-century photography? It's a no brainer, right? Of course he was.

"An insightful critic as well as a visionary curator, Szarkowski filled New York's Museum of Modern Art with the colour photography of William Eggleston, and championed the transgressive work of Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander. Everyone who cares about photography is in his debt," writes Sean O'Hagan in this article over at The Guardian.

Now nobody is trying to downplay Szarkowski's contribution to the medium, but consider this response from Peter Galassi during a symposium at The Shpilman Institute for Photography:

"In a sense, for Szarkowski it was easier because nothing was worth anything, and nothing was shown anywhere else. And the artists came to him. Because there were no galleries that was the only way."

Watch this video clip, and decide for yourself whether there's an element of truth in this statement.