Page 49 - Vancouver Art Gallery 2014
P. 49
Interior_Annual Report 14-10-24 4:51 PM Page 47








HARRY MOREY CALLAHAN

556 photographic prints, 1941–99
Gift of The Rossy Family Foundation

The Gallery is thrilled to have acquired 556 exhibition-quality photographs by the widely acclaimed American
photographer Harry Callahan, a Gift from The Rossy Family Foundation of Montreal. The collection is an excellent
representation of the work of this significant twentieth-century photographer and is an outstanding addition to
the Gallery’s permanent collection, in which photography has a prominent place. It is the largest donation of art
the Gallery has ever received.


The Artist Callahan is a canonical figure in the development of modern photography and his work is discussed
in every major overview of the history of the medium. His name is synonymous with a wide-ranging exploration
of photographic technique and an engagement with specific subjects over extended periods of time, both of
which resulted in a unique and highly original body of work. He was one of the most influential photographers
of the latter half of the twentieth century and more than sixty solo exhibitions of his work have been presented
at prestigious international institutions.
The artist’s œuvre is unusual in that it encompasses emphatically different approaches to image making,
from social documentary images of city streets to lyrical, starkly minimal compositions from nature, through
to multiple exposures made in camera using both black-and-white and colour materials. Though Callahan’s
production encompasses disparate methods, it is bound together by a profound awareness of the parameters
of the devices and materials he deployed to make his images.
Callahan’s obsessive interest in light, line and space drove him to photograph subjects repeatedly, drawing
attention to the extraordinary in the ordinary through a process of repetition in which a body of images strengthens
the resonance of each individual photograph. He was interested in the articulation of “an instinctive visual life,”
which was not a linear narrative, but something that could only be discerned in a substantial body of work. As
Sarah Greenough, curator of Callahan’s retrospective at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, noted in
1996: “As an artist who is more interested in the process than the product, who works through the medium to
discover and ultimately know and understand both himself and his world, Callahan does not think in terms of
creating photographic masterpieces, singular and complete unto themselves. Nor does he consider his later
photographs more accomplished than his earlier ones. Instead each is but a piece in a larger continuum.”

The Donor Montreal-based The Rossy Family Foundation was established by Mr. Larry Rossy, founder and
CEO of Dollarama. Mr. and Mrs. Rossy are major Canadian philanthropists and have donated works to other
Canadian art museums. As well, they provide financial support for the Colart Collection, a private collection that
purchases work by emerging Canadian artists.

The Callahan Collection This collection of Callahan’s work is unique in Canada. It includes most
of the photographs that comprised the retrospective of Callahan’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in
New York in 1976, as well as additional photographs that represent various thematic groups and shed light on
Callahan’s working methods. This collection provides a detailed representation of Callahan’s overall production,


OPPOSITE: Edward Burtynsky, Mount Edziza Provincial Park #4, Northern British Columbia, Canada , 2012, chromogenic print, Collection
of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of the Artist, Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary




2013|14 ACQUISITIONS 47
   44   45   46   47   48   49   50   51   52   53   54