Harry Callahan

(1912 – 1999)

Inspired by Ansel Adams during a photographic workshop in Detroit in 1941, Harry Callahan chose to pursue photography and explore the medium’s artistic potential.  By 1946 he was invited by László Maholy Nagy to teach at The Institute of Design in Chicago, also known as the New Bauhaus. In 1961 Callahan helped establish the photography program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Callahan is known for his “composite portrait” of his wife and muse Eleanor, whom he consistently photographed from 1947 – 1960.  Equally significant, Callahan, along with very few others, helped us understand what the Abstract Expressionists painters were practicing in their medium and how those ideas could be extended to the photograph. What constitutes subject matter?  Does the photograph need to necessarily record reality?

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