Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Memory: Eleanor Callahan

Eleanor Knapp Callahan, wife and muse of the great photographer Harry Callahan  died on Wednesday at 95. 

I am moved by her matter-of-fact cooperation with her brilliant husband's work, for her financial support of the family, for her happy, enduring marriage: "Sixty-four years, and not one bad one...".



Here, Harry Callahan photographed her with their only child, Barbara, in 1953. He said, "I wanted to photograph the person for whom I had feeling. It wasn’t enough just to photograph a nude."



Look at her: Lush, austere, graceful– nothing like the starved models of today. A woman, a mother, a presence but never a product.


We all know such women; let us pause to honour their forthright integrity, whether viewed by eye or camera. Callahan was an extraordinary photographer, but perhaps his greatest gift was the capture of the uncomplicated glory of a strong and splendid woman simply living her life.

12 comments:

Tabitha said...

So beautifully written, this brought tears to my eyes.

déjà pseu said...

Stunning, Duchesse. Both the images and your words.

materfamilias said...

Just lovely, thank you K.

Mardel said...

Lovely.

Vivienne said...

I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of photographs by Mr. Callahan last year at the Art Institute of Chicago; there are not enough thanks in the world for the friend who insisted that we go! She was beautiful, and in the photographs you could tell how much her husband loved her. Thanks for a lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Amen.

C.

Susan said...

Thank you for this post It was lovely, as were the photos you posted.

Duchesse said...

All: Thank your for your appreciation. A book of Harry Callahan's photos Eleanor is still in print:
http://www.amazon.com/Eleanor-Julian-Cox/dp/3865214649/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1330639236&sr=8-3

Rubiatonta said...

I feel inspired by the trust and connection that they shared. Thank you for sharing this with us.

la fourchette said...

A really lovely tribute. I've seen Callahan's photos of her and each is just so beautiful in its simplicity and authenticity.

Swissy said...

Memorably lovely. Thank you. Callahan taught in the city where I lived and more than one time I was asked if I were Harry Callhan's wife. (I'm more than 20 years younger.)I could never see the slightest resemblance, but I was always flattered anyway.

Duchesse said...

Vivienne: Would have loved to have seen that, and so glad you did.

Swissy: What a compliment! Eleanor Callahan looked ageless for many decades.

la fourchette: I'm ordering the book, would like to have those images close to hand.