From my review of “Harry Callahan: Eleanor” at the RISD Museum:
“I think I’ve photographed the same things all my life,” Harry Callahan said in 1991. “Buildings and grasses and people walking.” And, for a stretch running from about 1941 to 1963, that included his wife, Eleanor.
From these modest subjects, Callahan (1912-1999) became one of the legendary American photographers who moved the field from the close observation and documentary photography of the ‘30s into post-World War II surrealism, abstraction and process-oriented experimentation. And he’s one of Providence’s own legends because he founded the Rhode Island School of Design’s photography department in 1961 and taught there until he retired in 1977.
“He just liked to take the pictures of me,” Mrs. Callahan told me when she came up from her home in Atlanta last week to see “Harry Callahan: Eleanor,” which is on view at the RISD Museum through Feb. 15. “In every pose. Rain or shine. And whatever I was doing. If I was doing the dishes or if I was half asleep. And he knew that I never, never said no. I was always there for him. Because I knew that Harry would only do the right thing. I never had any fear. Harry could do whatever he wanted with me and my body.”
Read the rest here.
“Harry Callahan: Eleanor,” RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, Nov. 7, 2008, to Feb. 15, 2009.