John Szarkowski: The Photographer’s Eye: A Way of Seeing (Museum of Modern Art, 2007)

John Szarkowski’s The Photographer’s Eye, based on a landmark exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1964 and first published in 1966, is an excellent introduction to the art of photography. It brings together pictures by both recognized masters and unknown photographers that offer an outline of photography’s creative visual language, revealing the extraordinary range of the medium’s potential. The pictures are divided into five sections, each an examination of one of the particular sets of choices imposed on the artist with the camera: The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time, The Vantage Point.

John Szarkowski (December 18, 1925 – July 7, 2007) was a photographer, curator, historian, and critic. From 1962 to 1991 Szarkowski was the director of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). He created solo shows for Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, and August Sander.

In the mid-1960s, Szarkowski wrote The Photographer’s Eye to educate the small but growing audience of photography enthusiasts about what the camera did best and what it accomplished distinctly from all other art forms. Being a photographer of some accomplishment himself, Szarkowski identifies, in The Photographer’s Eye, the core characteristics and problems intrinsic in the medium so that “they may contribute to the formulation of a vocabulary and a critical perspective more fully responsive to the unique phenomena of photography.” These core elements are The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time, and Vantage Point.

Carol McCusker ()

Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art