New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 17 April 17 to 23, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away
Fred Herzog
In Color

Photo by Fred Herzog . Source: laurencemillergallery.com
Fred Herzog, "Crossing Powell" 1982.
Fred Herzog is not in the same league as Saul Leiter, but many of the 20 images now on display at Laurence Miller echo Leiter’s sensibility and his eye for color. Herzog, who immigrated to Canada in 1952 from Germany, moved to Vancouver a year later and began photographing the urban landscape in color at a time – the 1950s and 60s – when black and white was considered more artistic. He called his street photography “a form of journalism” and expanded the genre to include billboards, cars and store windows, showing the grittier side of life – i.e., the homes of the working class – as well as slices of it. Most of the time he used Kodachrome, which limited his audience and therefore his reputation since his work could only be viewed as a slide show. Things started to change in 2007 when the development of digital printing allowed the Vancouver Art Gallery to mount a major retrospective of his work that let old and new admirers see his work on a gallery wall. Then in 2011, a gallery in Berlin had an exhibition that featured work from the monograph, Fred Herzog Photographs.
Photo by Fred Herzog . Source: laurencemillergallery.com
Fred Herzog, "Crossing Powell" 1982.
This increased interest gave Herzog the impetus to look for slides from 1957 to 2001 that had never been printed for this exhibit at Laurence Miller. Certainly a number of photographs here were worth the wait. “Crossing Powell” from 1984 shows a woman walking across a dark street into a pool of light. It’s very Hopper-esque. Just gorgeous. “Mom’s Shoes” is another beauty. A Norman Rockwellian picture of a little girl pushing a toy baby carriage and wearing mom’s shoes is framed by an old wooden fence with a clothesline behind it. Herzog shows his eye for graphics with “Staircase” from 1958 —a ramshackle set of steps that seems ready to collapse. “New Pontiac” is a study in contrasts—a new car (1957 model) parked next to a very old, run down house. Herzog goes to Curacao in 1967 for “Side Road Curacao,” an old car parked on a run down street, framed by a tree that adds signs of life. There are a number of other beautiful images here, most around 20 x 30 inches; all of them make you grateful that the work of a relatively unknown master of color is finally being exposed.

Fred Herzog
In Color


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Thursday, November 29 to
Saturday, January 26, 2013
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