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Fred Herzog: Modern Color

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Herzog’s big breakout occurred late in life when The Vancouver Art Gallery held the first major retrospective of his work in 2007: Fred Herzog Vancouver Photographs curated by Grant Arnold. It’s impossible to sum up all of the heartfelt passions of the artists in the pages or a gallery exhibit of Walks to the Paradise Garden. In his work, we’re shown a world we recognise, anachronistic as some of it may be, yet we relate to it. Scenes of society in the macrocosm, rather than showing us nothing, showed us everything: race relations, urban alienation, gender politics and class distinctions.

In 1953, decades before William Eggleston and Stephen Shore established color photography as a serious medium for art photography, Fred Herzog shot his first roll of color film.Furthermore, his shots were taken using mostly Kodachrome slide film, meaning he was limited in terms of actually getting to exhibit his images in public. A while later, Herzog worked as a medical photographer and also became a serious documentary photographer. The Canadian photographer worked largely with Kodachrome slide film for over 50 years, and only in the past decade has technology allowed him to make archival pigment prints that match the exceptional color and intensity of the Kodachrome slide, making this an excellent time to reevaluate and reexamine his work. The real pioneer of the medium seems to change depending on whom you ask (most people, perhaps rightly, would say William Eggleston) but let’s allow some space for another name: Fred Herzog. By using the Web site, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by the Terms and Conditions.

That which we find, the work and the use of the people out there, it’s natural, that’s what ordinary people do, that interests me.

In the 1950s and 1960s, many in the art world didn’t take color photography seriously, considering it amateurish and garish. Fred Herzog is best known for his unusual use of color in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when fine art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white shots. There’s defiance in the work of Herzog, whose images focused largely on the working class of Vancouver, Canada. And a lot of English gentlemen did serious and beautiful photography… But I didn’t have time for that. This book will bring together over 230 images, many never before reproduced, and will feature essays by acclaimed authors David Campany and Hans-Michael Koetzle.

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