Harry Callahan, Collage, 1957
June 4, 2019
Although it seems random and out of control, Harry Callahan's photograph of a collage is precisely the opposite. A clue...the black-on-white-on-black shape in the upper left corner is also in the lower right corner, just reversed. The only things tangible are the push pins securing the shapes of paper to the mount, casting shadows either to the left, or to the right.
Harry Callahan achieved this result by photographing the wall- mounted collage and then rotating 180 degrees the film in his 8 x 10" view camera, before taking a second exposure of the same collage. A multiple exposure, two images overlapping each other, one of the unique potentials of traditional photography. Imagine studying the view out your window while standing on your feet, then doing so while standing on your head. Then describing what you saw. See what I mean?
Harry Callahan was one of the great mid-century modern photographers, a relentless explorer of the possible, of the unseen. It would be interesting to see what Harry would make today, utilizing the new digital toolbox available to us all. The print we are offering, from an edition of 8 printed in 1994, measures just under 3 by 4 feet, perhaps the same scale of the actual collage before his camera. A print size considered large back then, but intimate by today's standards.