February 12, 2007 - Vancouver Art Gallery - Presenting a Landmark Retrospective, Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs
February 12, 2007

Presenting a Landmark Retrospective, Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs

Fred Herzog, Untitled [Hastings and Columbia Street, Vancouver], 1958

Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs
80,000 photographs, 50 years, 1 photographer and 1 city

Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby Street,
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7

No artist has chronicled Vancouvers urban life as comprehensively and with such sustained insight as photographer Fred Herzog, whose work will be featured in the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs from January 25 to May 13, 2007. Since 1953, Herzog has produced more than 80,000 colour photographs of the citys urban life the second-hand shops, vacant lots, neon signage and crowds of people who have populated the streets over the past fifty years. Originally created as slides, recent innovations in digital technology have allowed Herzog a new freedom to print his images on a large scale, opening his photographic world to a wider audience. The first retrospective to survey his complete body of work, Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs will feature more than 100 images covering the artists entire career.

Fred Herzogs use of colour photography to depict urban life over an extended period of time is unique, said exhibition curator Grant Arnold, the Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Im not aware of any body of street photography that incorporates colour during such an early period. His photographs provide a profound sense of lived experience of urban space in Vancouver and, by extension, of modern cities in general.

Herzogs imagery gives heightened resonance to bodily gesture, the detritus of consumer culture and the architecture of the urban landscape, highlighting the underlying tensions that exist in civic life. His views of Vancouver, including its crowded sidewalks, isolated individuals, cluttered thrift shop windows, front stoops, industrial ports and cacophonous signage, carry the viewer through public space as an empathetic passerby. Acting as a narrator, he presents a dispassionate view of the city as a site of tradition and change, collection and dispersion, production, expenditure and alienation.

Herzogs use of colour film was unusual in the 1950s and 60s, when art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white imagery. Much of the artists work was produced on Kodachrome, a colour slide film difficult to work with in a spontaneous fashion. Using this film with extreme skill, Herzog was able to capture fleeting moments with exceptional sharpness and tonal range that could not be reproduced in prints. His use of colour at this early stage makes Herzog a forerunner of New Color photographers such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, who received widespread acclaim in the 1970s. Herzogs work can also be seen as a precursor to that of such contemporary Vancouver photographers as Roy Arden, Karin Bubas, Christos Dikeakos, Arni Haraldsson and Jeff Wall, who have all focused their cameras on Vancouvers urban landscape.

While over the years he participated in group exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouvers Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery and the University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, the difficulty of projecting slides in a gallery setting and their insubstantiality as objects for display limited their possibilities for exhibition. Although active in Vancouvers art scene for more than forty years, only with recent developments in digital photography has Herzog been able to make prints that can accommodate traditional modes of display and ownership. It is this development that has allowed for the presentation of this landmark exhibition.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book co-published by Douglas & McIntyre that includes an in-depth interview of the artist by exhibition curator Grant Arnold and essays by Arnold and Vancouver novelist Michael Turner, whose books include Hard Core Logo and The Pornographer’s Poem.

The Gallery is grateful for the generous support of the Aymong Family, Presenting Sponsor of Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs.

Andrew Riley
Public Relations Manager

Dana Sullivant
Director of Marketing and Communications

Vancouver Art Gallery
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