Harry Callahan - French archives : Aix en Provence - March 16 to July 21, 2019
Place Saint Jean de Malte
In 1956, photographer Harry Callahan (1912-1999), then director of the photography department at the Institute of Design in Chicago, USA, received a Graham Foundation grant, went to Europe and stayed in Aix-en-Provence from September 1957 to July 1958. There he designed a series of studies on urban views, nature, and many portraits of his wife Eleanor. Thirty-six years later, revisiting his archives, Harry Callahan selected one hundred and thirty period prints, under the name "French Archives", and donated the whole to the Maison européenne de la Photographie (MEP). These photographs were first exhibited at the MEP from 9 November 2016 to 29 January 2017, then at the Musée de la Photographie de Charleroi from 13 May to 24 September 2017. Today, the Granet Museum is keen to bring them to the attention of the people of Aix and its audiences.
The photographs show the setting of Aix at the end of the 1950s, that of a small European city with its narrow streets and modest shops. The photographer finds the ideal theatre in the sunny streets for his research on shadow and light and the graphics of ordinary facades. As for nature studies, some were carried out in the garden of the house that Callahan occupied on the road to Mont Sainte-Victoire, dear to Cézanne. He continues his minimalist approach to landscape. The images taken in Aix-en-Provence deepen the photographer's search for rigour and aesthetic concerns developed in his previous works: the relationship to the city and architecture, street photos with furtive silhouettes, the minimalist approach to nature and, of course, the constant presence of Eleanor, his wife. According to Harry Callahan, this stay in Aix was a moment of fullness and happiness.