About This Artwork

Harry Callahan
American, 1912–1999

Untitled (Lakefront Fence), c. 1947

Gelatin silver print
27.3 x 26.7 cm (image/paper)
No markings recto or verso

Restricted gift of Anstiss and Ronald Krueck in honor of Sylvia Wolf, 1999.315

Harry Callahan made this photograph shortly after he moved from his hometown of Detroit to Chicago to teach at the famed Institute of Design (ID). The school embraced an experimental approach to photography, and Callahan's aesthetic of formal exploration fused with personal subjectivity meshed perfectly with the school's priorities. This image, which resembles a woodblock print more than a photograph, is something of a puzzle. Callahan photographed the scene with a telephoto lens, which compressed and flattened the planes, and printed it with extremely high contrast so that scarcely any gray tones remain. The subject, however, is simple enough: Lake Michigan, viewed over and through steel piles, and wooden posts set in the water in the distance.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Taken by Design: Photographs from The Institute of Design, 1937–1971," March 2–May 12, 2002; traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 20–October 20, 2002; and Philadelphia Museum of Art, December 7, 2002–March 2, 2003. (David Travis and Elizabeth Siegel)

Tucson, Arizona, Center for Creative Photography, "Harry Callahan: The Photographer at Work," January 27–May 7, 2006; traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, June 24–September 24, 2006.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 10 Permanent Collection Rotation, August 2011–April 2012.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 10 Permanent Collection Rotation #14, May 12-October 28, 2018.

Publication History

Travis, David and Elizabeth Siegel. 2002. “Taken by Design: Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1937–1971,” Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/University of Chicago Press. p. 92, cat. 20, pl. 55.

Siegel, Elizabeth. 2003. “Untitled,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, 29 (2). pp. 44–5.

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