16 Montrose Voice / May 14,1982
Harry Callahan proves photography is an art
Photostory by Ed Martinez
Photography is a visual art.
It does not pretend to be a plastic art,
which it isn't. It begins with certain "giv-
ens," which the plastic arts do not. But
within those limitations, which are not
really so much limitations as they are
parameters of the photographic art, the
endless possibilities for conceptualizing
visual images stretch to the very limits of
man's artistic creativity.
Photography is also a very new art
form, dating from the middle years of the
last century, with the work of Brady,
Morse. Daguerre and the early pioneers of
photography. Some of the very finest photographers who ever lived are still living,
and still working.
It is somewhat analogous to having a
Da Vinci or a Michelangelo still alive and
working today in sculpture or painting.
Ansel Adams, for example, unquestionably one of the finest photographic artists
who has ever or will ever live, continues to
work to this very day, vigorously, spewing
out vast fountains of protean creativity,
sharing all that he learns as he learns it
with whoever has time to listen to him.
Alfred Stieglitzin still alive and still
vigorous, one of the pre-eminent photo-
journalists of our time.
In spite of all this incredible talent on
every side in this very young, historically
speaking, art form, photography still has
yet to be anything like fully accepted by
the art world as a valid art form. The reasons are many, and do not really deserve
The fact is that there has been an explosion of interest in photography since even
World War II, with the invention of real-
tively cheap, reliable and very high quality 35 millimeter single lens reflex
cameras. Japan seized the lead in the
manufacture of these cameras from Germany after the war, and their sales have
been booming ever since.
One result of so much popular interest in
photography has been the appreciation of
the artists in the world of photography,
one of whom is the photographer Harry
Callahan. He is one of those very fine photographic artists who started working
seriously in photography in the early 40s.
Callahan met and became associated
with Adams, Stieglitz, Edward Steichen
and others, and had exhibits at the
Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan
Museum, and The Light Gallery in New
York. He has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the only Graham Foundation
Award ever given to a photographer.
Mr. Callahans' awards and honors are
literally too numerous to be listed, but it is
in his latest work, from 1968 to the present,
where his talent reaches its full flower.
Harry Callahan has published several
books on his photography, the latest of
which, Harry Callahan-Color, was published in 1980, and forms the title of this
show through June 5 at the Clemons Gallery, 803 Marshall.
Callahans' work is characterized by
technical excellence that one quickly
comes to take for granted, which is a pity.
All the years that Mr. Callahan spent
learning his craft result, ironically, in that
craftsmanship seeming natural, in being
almost assumed in his photographs. The
colors in this show, many seen in Houston
for the first time, are intensely vivid, and
the eye for composition that utilized the
colors throws them out to the viewer.
The works in this show are so very
advanced and timeless that they establish
firmly the place that photography has at
long last and with such difficulty been
awarded: a place in the fine arts.
These works by Callahan are without
doubt fine works of art that will live as
long as man appreciates that which is
beautiful. Houston is fortunate to have a
gallery like the Clemons Gallery devoted
to fine photography. More and more galleries across the country are springing up,
devoted solely to the art of photography,
and to fostering the interest of art lovers in
this new and very vital art form.
Houstonians deserve the opportunity to
see these fine works that are currently and
regularly being shown at this gallery.
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