New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

Callahan - Pollack
Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollack
Early Photographs and Drawings
Reviewer #1
Torn Sign by Harry Callahan. Source: pacemacgill.com
Harry Callahan, "Torn Sign" 1946

Both Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollack became masters of their media in the late 1940’s. Although each worked entirely separately from the other, they shared common interests and concerns. In this small, finely curated show neither artist is represented by major works. Most of the pieces are small– contact prints by Callahan and notebook pages or scrap paper drawings by Pollack. So much the better. In both cases these more informal pieces show the artists’ concentration on the concept of total composition and the non-representational use of line that were to dominate their work.

There are only 3 pieces in the show by Callahan that might be considered primarily representational, each picturing the same torn wall poster. Each frames the poster differently, accentuating the interplay of the blocks of black and white and their interactions with the edges of the prints. The others prints by Callahan all highlight his preoccupation with line. A series of prints titled “Camera Movement with Flashlight” shows simple traces of light taken in a darkened room. The best of these produces a calligraphic image with eerie effects. Although the intent is clear, the execution of the others is stilted, and one wishes for the fluid line of someone like Jackson Pollack (or indeed of Picasso) to polish the flow of light.

Telephone Wires by Harry Callahan. Source: pacemacgill.com
Harry Callahan, "Telephone Wires" 1945-76

Callahan comes into his own in images taken from nature. The series of multiple exposures of light on water and overlapping naked tree branches are exquisite distillations of each subject.

Pollack’s pieces in the show, on the other hand, are interesting mainly as precursors to what we know will be his blossoming on canvas. His concerns are similar to Callahan’s, but they had not yet reached a critical mass, and appear in turns to be either trite or derivative.

Ultimately Callahan has the clear finale to the show: two simple 5 inch squares, each a group of black telephone wires crossing overhead against a white sky, each perfectly placed and seemingly filled with important messages from 1945.

Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollack
Early Photographs and Drawings


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32 E 57th St. 9th Fl
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212 759 7999
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Thursday, March 3 to
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Hours: Tue-Fri, 9:30 to 5:30; Sat 10 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery