John Szarkowski

February 5–May 15, 2005

Before he became one of the most influential photography curators of the 20th century, John Szarkowski was himself an accomplished photographer. Since his retirement from New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1991, he has returned to his art. This exhibition brings together 48 of Szarkowski’s early works — pictures of the Midwest dating from 1943 until he accepted the curatorial post at MoMA in 1962 — and 27 of his later works, many of which were made around his farm in upstate New York. Though they vary in subject and date, the tonally rich black-and-white prints present a remarkable and consistent vision. These are gentle, sophisticated pictures informed by a humanist sensibility. They depict the lived landscape, both urban and rural, and impart a sense of history, place, and the way we as Americans once regarded land.

John Szarkowski: Photographs is organized by SFMOMA. This exhibition is generously supported by Randi and Bob Fisher and Charlotte and David Winton.

John Szarkowski, From Country Elevator, Red River Valley, 1957; collection Museum of Modern Art, New York