Provenance: Art Institute of Chicago, deaccessioned 2014
A group of seven prints. The only known prints. The seven pictures of pigeons in various states of flight illustrate Harry Callahan's photography as an intuitive process based on spontaneous action, akin to contemporaneous action painting-but with a camera. "I can't say what makes a picture. I can't say. It's mysterious," Callahan remarked late in his life. "You open the shutter and let the world in." These pictures were donated to the Art Institute by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, best known for her famous modernist home (the Farnsworth House, Plano, IL, 1945-1951) designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who taught at Illinois Institute of Technology, home to Callahan's school, the Institute of Design.
Today these images are little known, but in 1962 Callahan included one of them in an exhibition he had with Robert Frank at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Callahan and Frank, MOMA, 1962.