Installation view of the exhibition The New Documents, February 28–May 7, 1967. Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. Photo: Rolf Petersen

This modestly scaled exhibition, featuring work by three (then) young and relatively unknown photographers named Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand, had a lasting influence on modern photography. As curator John Szarkowski explained in his introduction to the exhibition, the three represented a new generation of photographers with markedly different aims than those of their hortatory predecessors of the 1930s and 1940s: they had “redirected the technique and aesthetic of documentary photography to more personal ends. Their aim has been not to reform life but to know it.” The exhibition established all three photographers as important voices in American art; their achievements continue to encourage more nuanced understandings of the medium.

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