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Tod Papageorge: American Sports, 1970, or, How We Spent the War in Vietnam

June 11–August 28, 2009

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

Pace/MacGill Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of over forty 11 x 14 and 16 x 20 inch gelatin silver prints from Tod Papageorge's series, American Sports, 1970. Shortly before the Kent State shootings in the spring of 1970, Papageorge received a Guggenheim Fellowship to "document as clearly and as completely as possible the phenomenon of professional sport in America." Eight months later, having traveled throughout the country to photograph such classic sporting events as the World Series, the Cotton Bowl, the Preakness Stakes, and the Indianapolis 500, Papageorge returned to New York with a body of work that can now be seen to comprise an incisive portrait of a nation reeling from the impact of the myriad political, sexual, and racial struggles created by the conflicting pressures of the war in Vietnam.

Papageorge's ability to distill concise and coherent images from the dense visual weave of passing events--a skill he honed during the late 1960s by photographing nearly every day on the streets of Manhattan--is particularly evident in this body of work. With his wide-angle lens, he not only documents where and how a series of archetypal games was played out, but also reveals their compelling relationship to the world-at-large in images that, subtly but palpably, expose the unsettled American spirit at a critical moment in its history.

Tod Papageorge (b. 1940, Portsmouth, New Hampshire) began to photograph during his last term at the University of New Hampshire, where he graduated in 1962 with a B.A. in English literature. In 1970, he received the first of two Guggenheim Fellowships in photography and, at about the same time, began his teaching career in New York City. His work has been widely exhibited in the United States and in Europe, and is represented in more than thirty major public collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Two collections of his photographs, Passing through Eden: Photographs of Central Park and American Sports, 1970, or How We Spent the War in Vietnam, were published in 2007 and 2008, respectively. He was recently shortlisted for the 2009 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

In 1979, Papageorge was appointed the Walker Evans Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at the Yale School of Art, where he has taught many of the leading photographers of the past thirty years, including Gregory Crewdson, Tim Davis, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Katy Grannan, An-My Lê, and Abelardo Morell. Papageorge is the author of Public Relations: The Photographs of Garry Winogrand and Walker Evans and Robert Frank: An Essay on Influence, prepared in conjunction with exhibitions that he curated for the Museum of Modern Art in 1977 and the Yale University Art Gallery in 1981. In 2001, the YUAG also published his seminal essay on the work of Robert Adams.

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