Mirrors and Windows

Then Chief Curator of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, John Szarkowski curated the exhibition and catalog, Mirrors and Windows. His aim was to recognize to the widely changing field of photography in a period of around 20 years (1960 to 1978).  His basic premise however, is one that still holds true: that photographs are essentially Mirrors or Windows (or both at once).  A Mirror is a reflection of oneself,  a Window is a view of the rest of the world. No matter the photographic process or technique, or what Szarkowski would call straight or synthetic photographs, most photographs can be seen through the Mirror/Window framework.

Mirrors – “a love for the eloquently perfect     print, intense sensitivity to mystical content of the natural landscape and minimal interest of man as a social animal.”

Window – “the world exists independent of human attention, contains discoverable patterns of intrinsic meaning and they by discerning these patterns, forming models or symbols of them with the materials of this art, the artist is joined to a larger intelligence.”

Look at the work of these photographers that can be placed in the “Mirrors” category:

Minor White

Walter Chappell

Paul Caonigro

Jerry Uelsmann

Danny Lyon

Ralph Gibson

Judy Dater

Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Rauschenberg

Look at the work of these photographers that can be placed in the “Windows” category:

Robert Frank

Gary Winogrand

Henry Wessel

Tod Papageorge

Diane Arbus

Lee Freidlander

Robert Adams

Stephen Shore

William Eggleston

Edward Ruscha

Joel Meyerowitz

Your assignment is to consider and understand this basic principle of photography in the creation of your artwork.  You need four related images.   They will be assessed for both image and technical (print) quality.


  • 4 prints
  • 4 PSD files demonstrating appropriate digital workflow
  • Mirrors and Windows Self-assessment-template
  • 4 jpeg files posted on digital portfolio