Provenance: Art Institute of Chicago, deaccessioned 2014
Exhibitions: Photographs by Harry Callahan and Robert Frank, MOMA, 1962, cat. 49 . There titled: "Chicago, 1954 (white pigeon above dark street)"
Literature: On my Eyes. Poems by Larry Eigner and Photographs by Harry Callahan, 1960 (illustrated)
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 this print in an exhibition he had with Robert Frank at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Photographs by Harry Callahan and Robert Frank, MOMA, 1962. The status and importance of this image is indicated not just by its inclusuion in this exhibition, but its presentation alongside some of Callahan's darkest and most dramatic Chicago street scenes, as is shown in the attached installation view to be found on MoMA's website.
Photograhs by Harry Callahan and Robert Frank, MoMA, NY, 1962