A Harry Callahan Kinda Love

The divine Donald Diddams (I am working out his nickname- 3D, Triple D, Divine Double D but am verging on Victoria’s Secrets so have to decide on just one) raised an issue on his blog about the cross pollination of  influences we all have when making “aahrt” in this global, internet age.  We are a click away from someone else’s vision and does it homogenize our view or expand it?

Recently, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and saw three exhibits that triggered my creativity button.  I’ve already blogged about Luis Melendez and posted some images here and here which I did after seeing his exhibit.   You can view pieces from this exhibit( and two others I’ll talk about) on this website, arttattler.com.

After viewing some of Melendez’s images,  I think you’ll agree that no one would look at my images and say, “Damn, that’s a Luis Melendez’s knock-off!”  (I wish, btw.  I friggin’ wish.)

But, what I took away was being in the presence of an artist with great love of his subject.  A subject, I share in common with him.  Does it sound too goofy to say after viewing his still-lifes, I wanted to love my subject just a bit more passionately?  If this is cribbing, bring me more of it and if some skill comes with it, so much the better.

But, today, it’s Harry Callahan, an American Photographer, whose work was also on display and some of his images I actually have in my own portfolio.  What?  Yes, images taken by me but images he would recognize.  The one posted is exhibit A.  Was it taken by Mr. Callahan. No.  Had I seen Mr. Callahan’s work when I took it?  No.  But when I saw his images, I did a double-take.  I thought he might have been under the same tree in England,  He displayed multiple frames of his tree.  All of them were different angles from this image.   I took this many years ago, so many years ago that it was in slide form and I had to scan it into digital form.

This exhibit would also be affirming to Razzbuffnik as I saw several of his shots in the Callahan exhibit also.  On the arttattler.com, it is the street scene of a woman passing him.  It looked the black and white version of many street scenes Razz has taken, most recently on his recent trip to Europe, Spain and Portugal.  You can view several of Razz’s street images HERE.

I think my Lucy five cents on this topic of cross-pollination is that while we may stand under the same tree, or walk on the same streets, or strand of beach, what we shoot is invariably different.  Our own personalities cannot be “lifted” either consciously or unconsciously.  But, our love of our subject can grow more passionate by viewing other artists’ work..

The image from the Callahan’s exhibit that has caused me the most reflection can be seen HERE.   Those familiar with this blog know I am totally taken with the architecture of Queen Anne’s Lace in all four seasons.  I know I shall be visiting them soon with this image in mind.

And, Divine Triple D, I think that’s a very very good thing, as Martha would say.

Here’s what Harry Callahan said about the subject:

In order to make a statement about one’s photography, there should be some statement about oneself. I started photography as a hobbyist in 1938 at the age of 26.  I had had no formal training.  In 1941, as a member of the Detroit Photo Guild, I saw and recognized for the first time some fine photography by Ansel Adams.  This was a revelation.  It led me to search out my own way of photographing intuitively.  Searching and stumbling revealed to me that my photography would be one of continual change.

That about covers it, 3D, don’t you think?

Let’s raise our glasses for a toast.

(sounds of “tap tap tap” on a crystal glass)

“Here’s to MORE Pollination!.”

(sounds of bees buzzing and/or mouse clicks)

©Pat Coakley 2010.


**Select photographs from this blog and my wider archive can be purchased at www.patcoakley.com

10 comments on “A Harry Callahan Kinda Love”

  1. Well, Pat, thank you for this extensive reaction to the question I raised. I particularly like Callahan’s personal statement (and his photography, of course). After more reflection, I have come to much the same conclusion, that all this cross-pollinating is a good thing for artists and art.
    Of course, the benefits depend on us to use what we see and learn to expand and further differentiate our own personal vision. The benefits also require diversity of the pollen. Without that — as would be the case if corporate interests were to “flatten” the new media and constrain the transmission of certain content — the great advances in connectivity and communication could work just as powerfully in favor of homogeneity and a world-wide mono-culture.
    So I guess all this connectivity is a tool that can be used for good or ill. So far so good, and I’ll raise my glass to that!

  2. Great photo. I’ll let you and DDD work out the philosophy of it all.

  3. Kenneth Clark once said that art fakes were easy to tell, years after they were made because the influence and aesthetics of the age they were made in will show through.

    For instance, if a medieval ivory was faked in the 1920s there would be tell tail signs that it was made in the 1920s even though it was trying to emulate the medieval era.

    I’d say its the same with any kind of influences. No matter what the influence, we can’t hide ourselves. Unconsciously we always betray our hand and express ourselves, because we can’t do anything else.

  4. I just recently started visiting from your buddy’s blog (Donald Diddams) and it has been a pleasure to read your thoughts.

    A mindful approach to one’s work is as healing as mindful meditation. To be moved to work with enthusiasm after viewing an artist’s work is a gift we give one another, yet rarely think of it that way. I wonder why.

    Looking forward to visiting again. You are an inspiration to me.

  5. kseverny, thanks for raising your glass!

  6. Oh, DDD (thank you, Carol)…I think you have to have a few more drinks!

  7. Carol, I’m leaving it all in DDD’s hands. I’m done. I stuck a fork in my thight and the juices ran clear. (You have a thight, don’t you?)

  8. Razz, the ivory example is a great one. No matter how we try to flee, we always run right back into ourselves.

  9. Welcome, Melinda! I’ll be clicking my way to your artistic field, soon! This is fun, isn’t it?

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