Artwork Title: Eleanor - Artist Name: Harry Callahan


Harry Callahan, 1947

Callahan met his future wife, Eleanor Knapp, on a blind date in 1933. At that time she was a secretary at Chrysler Motors in Detroit and he was a clerk. They married three years later. In 1950 their daughter Barbara was born. Callahan's work was a deeply personal response to his own life. He encouraged his students to turn their cameras on their own lives, leading by example. Callahan photographed his wife over a period of fifteen years, as his prime subject. Eleanor was essential to his art from 1947 to 1960. He photographed her everywhere - at home, in the city streets, in the landscape; alone, with their daughter, in black and white and in color, nude and clothed, distant and close. ( ) Eleanor Callahan, wife of Harry Callahan, was the subject of one of the most significant portrait series in photography, which is perfect because Eleanor was anonymous to most people. There are probably more great portraits of Eleanor Callahan than of Marilyn Monroe. The Callahan marriage was not the type of artist-muse relationship that they make movies about. It seems she made no effort to be a compelling model. She is never trying to create persona or convey personality, yet she is always present.... In the Eleanor portraits a woman doesn’t need to be poked and prodded, twisted and overacting to be fascinating. “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.” (Eleanor Callahan).
artists wifefemale portraitblack and white photographphotography

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