The extraordinary thing about Harry Callahan’s career is that, in the full course of it, he has managed to try just about every angle on photography that its history has come up with. Callahan has made photographs that are nearly complete abstractions, painstakingly calculated large-camera landscapes, 35mm pictures of passersby in the street, numberless portraits of his wife—he has even made collages of his pictures and then photographed these. His eclecticism, probably the most extreme photography has known, has been the deliberate result of dividing his work into a series of discrete projects, each organized around a specific technique and subject.
The perhaps unfortunate result of this unique variety is that Callahan’s retrospective looks like a collection of experiments, only some of which yielded one or a few precious solutions. Depending on one’s notion of what a significant artist’s
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