Research Code Key
[E] Explanation [O] Opinion [W] Website [R] Further Research [Q] Quotation [U] Useful [!] Critical
[X] Exhibition [T] Timeline [I] Important [>] Indent
[P] Photograph [B] Book To Read



[U] Harry Callahan (1912-1999) was inspired to take up photography after hearing Ansel Adams speak, Harry Callahan was largely self-taught, though he did receive encouragement in his pursuits from such luminaries as Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz.

[U] His method was to wander the streets most mornings, and in the afternoon he would experiment with proofs of his best negatives. Despite this quasi-daily routine, his final output was no more than a half a dozen final images per year, demonstrating the intensity and rigour of his selection process.

[U] For subject matter, Callahan chose his immediate surroundings, from family, most especially his wife Eleanor Knap, to street scenes, to the landscapes from his escapes to the countryside. In much of his work he experiments with abstraction, each one a poetic reflection on his lived experience.

[U] In 1946 Laszlo Moholy-Nagy invited Callahan to join the staff of the Institute of Design in Chicago. In 1948 his work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

[U] Callahan’s archive is maintained by The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona.

[T] 1912 – Born: in Detroit, MI

[T] 1938 – Began as an amateur photographer when he was clerk in the shipping department of Chrysler Motors

[T] 1941 – Joined the Chrysler camera club and then the Detroit Photo Guild where he met many established photographers, including Ansel Adams

[T] 1942 – Travelled to New York to meet Alfred Stieglitz

[T] 1946 – Asked to join the photography faculty at the Institute of Design in Chicago by Arthur Siegel

[T] 1961 – Left Chicago to head the photography department at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI

[T] 1973 – Stepped down from the chairmanship in 1973, but continued teaching at the Rhode Island School of Design.

[T] 1996 – Awarded the National Medal of Arts.

[T] 1999 – Died in Atlanta, GA