1a Harry Callahan

[This exercise is in the new online course but not in the pdf extract with which I began work.]

Analysing and reflecting  
This quick exercise is designed to introduce the idea of analysing and reflecting on the work of others, and to give you some material for your first learning log entry or blogpost.  
Here’s a selection of creative practitioners that you will encounter during this course unit:  
● Elina Brotherus,  
● Harry Callahan,  
● Zenele Muholi,  
● Nicky Bird. 
1. Choose one of these names and find a piece of work they’ve produced. Remember to reference the works you have chosen using Harvard  Referencing, so it’s clear what you are looking at, who made it, and when.
2. Pick one of the pieces and briefly describe it. Consider its qualities by  trying to describe it. What are the different elements within the work and how do these elements work together? What do you think the work is trying to communicate? Imagine you’re describing the work to somebody over the telephone. Try to do this in no more than 50 words.  For image based work, what you’re doing here is analysing the formal visual language of an image. This is known as visual research or, sometimes visual analysis. Writing can be a useful tool in visual analysis, but you can also annotate images with notes. 
3. Using the same piece, briefly write about how you relate to this work. Do you like it or hate it, find it intriguing, influential or outdated, and if so, why? Does the work connect to wider ideas or other creative practitioners? In other words, what’s your opinion on this work. Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘missing the point’. Perhaps your reflection raises more questions than answers. Again, try to do this in no more than 50 words.
4. Use the text you’ve generated to create your first blog post or learning log entry. You may also want to be self-reflective by considering your  experience of doing the exercise. Did you find it an easy or difficult task? Did it raise any interesting issues or areas you want to develop further? Write a sentence or two picking up on any of these points in your learning log. 

I&P online, Intro, p.1

1. We met Brotherus in C&NBird too. I have not encountered Muholi, so I will save their work (I believe they take the non-specific pronoun, see Tate and Winsconsin U. LGBTQ+ Resource Center). I will write about Harry Callahan as I cherish a pair of his images. Strict Harvard from here onwards.

1. Eleanor, 1947
2. Weed against sky, 1948
© the estate of Harry Callahan

2. Description
The two images are remarkably similar in structure, each comprising just two or three lines, one vertical, the other(s) straying from horizontal, with two additional dots at the horizontal extremities in the case of the Weed: they are starkly minimalistic. The subject matter is entirely different, however: a closeup segment of Callahan’s wife’s upper thighs and buttocks in the case of Eleanor and Weed a small plant before a blank sky. Technically, Eleanor is in low contrast greys and the Weed in harsh high contrast.
Individually they are strong but unspectacular images, but in combination, they are æsthetically astonishing.

Hand with Buttocks, 1987
© the estate of John Coplans

3. Personal reaction
I cannot recall when I first saw this pairing, but I first showed them together on a web site in 2012: I do not imagine that the idea originated with me. The practice of pairing was championed by Stefan Lorant between the world wars and discussed in his subsequent book (1940): although his use was often for humour or ridicule, the principle works equally well for serious purposes.
It would be interesting to seek the most appropriate companion piece for Eleanor amongst John Coplans’ dark and hirsute partial self-portraits.


Blackburn, N (i.e. me) (2012) Snaps [online]. snap-dragon.com. Available from http://www.snap-dragon.com/Photo.html [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Callahan, H. (1947) Eleanor [online image]. invaluable.com. Available from https://www.invaluable.com/artist/callahan-harry-qjz7jc5qmf/sold-at-auction-prices/ [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Callahan, H. (1948) Weed against sky [online image]. artsy.net. Available from https://www.artsy.net/artwork/harry-callahan-weed-against-sky-detroit-3 [Accessed 4 October 2020].

Lorant. S (1940) Chamberlain and the beautiful llama and 101 more juxtapositions. London: Hulton

Tate (n.d.) Zanele Muholi [online]. tate.org.uk. Available from https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/zanele-muholi [Accessed 5 October 2020].

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2020) Gender Pronouns [online]. uwm.edu. Available from https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/ [Accessed 5 October 2020].