HOME as Place

Garry Winogrand (1928-1984)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1958; printed 1974
From the portfolio “Garry Winogrand”
Gelatin silver print mounted on Fabriano Classico paper

Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of Raymond W. Merritt)

Born in New York in 1928, Garry Winogrand is still considered a preeminent photographer of post-war America. His influence on the art of street photography stemmed from his method of quickly snapping his photograph before the subject might even have noticed him or his camera. This contributed to the aesthetic we associate with his work today: photographs of unaware people on the street, of partygoers and the characters of public scenes, and other records of the fleeting world behind the lens. The hand-held nature of the camera Winogrand used lets the viewer see only that which the camera might.

Albuquerque, New Mexico captures that temporal essence, but leaves the pulsing street of the city to instead take the camera and the viewer to the desert and its budding post-war suburbia. The composition builds on the tension between the figure of a toddler with foreboding weather and the mystery of the shadowy depths of the garage. The camera and the viewer cannot penetrate the private space of the home and are left in the ambiguous space of the street.

Vladimir Filonov (b. 1948) From the series “Journey into the Heart of the Country,” 1989
Gelatin silver print

Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of the artist)

In 1989, the Soviet Union was collapsing and Russia was in a state of unrest. During this tumultuous time, there was an increasing desire to document society. Photographers like Vladimir Filonov made it their mission to display the reality of life in the Russian countryside. Filonov was part of the amateur photographer movement that focused on portraying reality and exploring issues such as poverty. In order to achieve this, Filonov traveled with other photographers across Russia documenting the disappearing villages. On this journey, Filonov wanted to capture more than just a moment in time; he wanted to create complex internal connections within his photographs.

This photograph features a derelict home in the Village of Pogoreloye, which could represent the disappearance of the Russian village with the reflection in the puddle a metaphorical reflection of the past. Filonov’s dramatic staging of the lighting and the landscape elevates the deteriorating home into a symbol for the loss of the village community.

Vladimir Filonov (b. 1948) From the series “Journey into the Heart of the Country,” 1989
Gelatin silver print

Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of the artist)

Vladimir Filonov’s work was included in the exhibition Changing Reality: Contemporary Soviet Photography held at the Corcoran Gallery in 1991. Filonov, contributed seven black and white works of Russian peasants in their home. He also photographed the proletariat houses themselves, illustrating contemporary Soviet life, a hallmark of his photography. The images he provided came from his series “Journey into the Heart of the Country”, specifically depicting the Village of Pogoreloye as it appeared in 1989.

In this photograph, realities of village life echo throughout the composition. Peeling wallpaper contrasts with the gossamer-like curtain above a translucent window. Below two black hooks hangs a tattered poster of Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), the Russian revolutionary and founder of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Lenin served as head of state from 1917 to 1924 and Soviets favorably looked back on his time in office with the recent overthrow of the Tsar was seen as an end of government corruption. The poster recalls this earlier time of optimism in the Soviet Union. Overall, the image exudes a feeling of abandonment and the deterioration of the home that seems to coincide with the gradual collapse of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party.

Richard Rodriguez (b. 1950)
Chris’s Room, 1979; printed 1980
Chromogenic color print

Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Museum Purchase with the aid of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C., a Federal agency, and the Polaroid Corporation)

Chris’s Room was purchased in 1980 while Richard Rodriguez was earning his M.F.A. at George Washington University. At the time, the Corcoran Gallery of Art was working to build its collection of color photographs with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Polaroid Corporation. This photograph was displayed in the Corcoran’s 1981 exhibition of recent photography acquisitions. More than half of the 40 photographers represented in the show were, like Rodriguez, living and working in D.C. at the time.

Chris’s Room gives us a small glimpse through the open door of a house into someone’s home. Paul Richard, a Washington Post critic who attended the exhibition, noted the way that Rodriguez uses color to bring life to the image. The many blues of the nightscape contrast with the warm, yellow light spilling from doorway of the stone house. This use of color sets the emotional tone of the piece, that the comfort and safety of the interior domestic space feels small and precious against the uncertainty of the world beyond.


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