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Harry Gruyaert, from TV Shots, c. 1972

Last night I discovered Guy Lane’s sporadic but impressive blog at Foto8. Among the posts was Do Not Adjust Your Set, a solidly written article about Harry Gruyaert’s TV Shots of the early ’70s, which I was entirely unfamiliar with. From Lane’s post:

Gruyaert’s subject – back in the early 70’s – was television, photographed at the moment of its ascendancy when radiant colour began to replace monotone black and white. TV Shots comprises a series of stills from sitcoms, dog shows, news bulletins and movies, ad breaks and interviews; Come Dancing and the Apollo flights; Coronation Street and the Olympic Games. The result is a sustained barrage of shockingly inconsequential visual noise in which moon landings and terrorist attacks are served up alongside game shows and costume dramas…

The photographs remained a controversial body of work even a decade later when Gruyaert was admitted to Magnum. “Some people were flabbergasted when they saw it and said “Jesus, we can’t take in a guy like this.” I made it in to the agency, but some were very much against my admission because they worked in that tradition of black and white, socially involved photography. But I think TV Shots is socially involved. I wanted to give a message; I don’t know if it worked.”

Harry Gruyaert at Magnum


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