John Szarkowski died over the weekend at the age of 81 from complications following a stroke. He will be missed.
Szarkowski served as the director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) for almost 30 years, starting in 1962. It was during this time that he launched the careers of now legendary photographers Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand. Szarkowski almost single-handedly established a place for fine-art photography in the art world, at a time when no gallery would carry a single photographic print.
He was also a brilliant landscape photographer, though most of his photography remained concealed from public view throughout most of his career. In 2005, many of his prints were displayed for the first time in solo exhibitions, and later in a 2006 retrospective at MoMA. A series of mostly rural and some urban views, Szarkowski’s own lens shows, as his writing often told, what it means to look at a lived landscape and how a lifetime and history can be told through a single lens.
Few have done so much for photography in a single lifetime. More so than curator, historian, or critic, Szarkowski will be remembered as photography’s most ardent supporter and advocate.
(Photo by Richard Avedon/Courtesy Richard Avedon Foundation via The New York Times)