Sunday, January 8, 2012

Harry Callahan

I really recommend the Harry Callahan exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Looking at his work, I see a guy always attuned to the visual world, to whatever moments and phenomena and bits ands bobs that he might encounter. And also always willing to perform all sorts of experiments with his photography -- collaging, double-exposing, etc (see the photo above that is of a stationary flashlight in a dark room, with Callahan moving the camera).

A faith in intuition and experiment, and in always LOOKING. I have been painting a lot from imagination and photos lately, but I need to go back to painting from life, experiencing that intense kind of seeing that lets you observe the marvelous in the ordinary. Seeing Callahan's work made me think about this, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about being "uplifted into infinite spaces, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all."

I'd like to know more about Callahan's life and his art-making and art-teaching. The exhibition text described him as a quiet, modest, doubt-full sort of teacher. He took so many shots but selected a very few for finished works.

Here are some quotes:

I think nearly every artist continually wants to reach the edge of nothingness - the point where you can't go any further.

The photographs that excite me are photographs that say something in a new manner; not for the sake of being different, but ones that are different because the individual is different and the individual expresses himself.

I photograph continuously, often without a good idea or strong feelings. During this time the photos are nearly all poor but I believe they develop my seeing and help later on in other photos. I do believe strongly in photography and hope by following it intuitively that when the photographs are looked at they will touch the spirit in people.

No comments: