Unlike what one might expect from a photographer associated with the Institute of Design in Chicago, Callahan’s photographs rarely focus on abstract forms that highlight the two-dimensionality of the picture plane. Instead, his work explores the intersection of form and the experience of it in everyday life. His most frequent collaborators in exploring this intersection were his wife, Eleanor, and their child, Barbara. This image belongs to a series of Chicago views in which mother and child are the sole human elements within a sun-bleached urban environment—in this case the warehouses of Chicago’s Fulton River District. At the center of the photograph’s remarkable clarity of vision, mother and daughter smile and pose to form an indivisible unit through their ordinary, intimate contact. They appear as if caught wandering away from a conventional family snapshot into a city frozen in time, on the verge of being abandoned for all eternity.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on mount, recto BRC: "Harry Callahan"
Harry Callahan; Jane Jackson
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 57," August 22, 2011–January 9, 2012.