Tod Papageorge is an American photographer whose career began in the New York City street photography movement of the 1960s. He started taking photographs in 1962 as an English literature major at the University of New Hampshire. Between 1979 and 2013 he directed the graduate program in photography at the Yale School of Art, where his students included Philip-Lorca diCorcia
, Lois Conner
, Abelardo Morell
, Susan Lipper
, Gregory Crewdson
, An-My Le
, Anna Gaskell
, Steve Giovinco
, and Katy Grannan
In 2007, Steidl published Passing through Eden
, a collection of photographs Papageorge took over 25 years in Central Park. Also in 2007, Aperture published American Sports, 1970: Or How We Spent the War in Vietnam
, containing photographs taken during his 1970 Guggenheim Fellowship
About Passing through Eden
Taken between 1969 and 1991, these black and white photographs capture the primeval character of Central Park, a human tragedy and comedy in this particular vision of the garden of Eden.
During the 1970s, when Papageorge began to work on this series, Central Park was portrayed as a dangerous place not to be visited after dark. These photographs depict a different view showing innocence, beauty, ugliness, isolation, chaos and humour - the whole scope of human life on view within the park. Papageorge parallels this series with the first four books of Genesis, pulling the disparate images together by presenting the park as a public Eden, his elegy to a lost Elysium. This projected narrative lends the images structure and gravity: the audience can recognise Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel in various guises acting out their elemental roles in our commonplace world.
Initially, Papageorge's project was driven less by a fascination with Central Park than by the desire to utilise a particular camera (6 x 9 cm Fujica) that was too cumbersome for the city's streets. He found within the park an intense and palpable realm of bodies, action and objects. Daily photographic excursions alongside Garry Winogrand
and Joel Meyerowitz
on the streets of New York had honed his abilities to both anticipate and capture great photographic moments within the disorder of the park.
Established as an articulate and influential critic and teacher of other's work, Papageorge's own photographs have rarely been in the spotlight. Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at Yale Art School since 1979, he has taught many of the strongest American photographers of the past three decades, including Abelardo Morell, Gregory Crewdson, Anna Gaskell and Katy Grannan. This re-examination of Papageorge's photography has been prompted by the recent reconsideration of work by his peers -- Winogrand by the ICP, Friedlander by the MOMA and Stephen Shore by the ICP.
Source: Michael Hoppen Gallery