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Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollock: Early Photographs and Drawings

March 3–April 16, 2011

32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY


Installation Views

Selected Works

NEW YORK, February 10, 2010 – Pace/MacGill Gallery, in collaboration with Washburn Gallery, is pleased to present Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollock: Early Photographs and Drawings. The exhibition juxtaposes early abstract images (1943 – 1958) by the influential American photographer Harry Callahan with drawings (1942 – 1956) by the pioneer of American abstraction, Jackson Pollock, to examine the development of abstract art in America.

Harry Callahan (1912-1999) was instrumental in introducing a vocabulary of formal abstraction into American photography at a time when descriptive realism was the dominant aesthetic. Made in black and white and often in series, the photographs on view exemplify Callahan's curiosity with exploring the technical aptitudes of the medium. Whether focusing on one of the primary themes of his artistic career — nature — or the simple sophistication of forms created by camera movements on a flashlight, Callahan created clear compositions of elegant and graphic lines. His studies of sunlight on water from 1943, for example, resulted in images of abstract patterns and lines through the observation of nature in time exposures. Callahan's innovative approach to such themes embody his continued pursuit to find new ways of seeing, which ultimately cemented his position as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

Whereas Callahan's apparently simple photographs are cool, the drawings by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) are highly charged with emotion. Spanning over a decade, from 1942 until his death in 1956, the drawings on view represent Pollock's exploration in pushing the boundaries of art. Moving further away from figuration, the earliest drawings — which precede Pollock's iconic large-scale "drip" paintings - demonstrate his progression towards abstraction. Allover compositions such as that employed in Untitled, 1945, for example, eventually led to the liberation of line from its function of defining contour. This mutual desire to discover new methods of expression led both Callahan and Pollock to embrace abstraction.

By the late 1940s, this urge to craft a new beginning for art took hold in New York with the rise of Abstract Expressionism. No longer relying upon European influences, these artists shifted their focus to a more self-reflective perspective and, though their means of expression were varied, each found their way to abstraction. Although Callahan and Pollock worked independently, examining their bodies of work together illustrates the artistic milieu of the time, which gave way to one of the most seminal art movements in history and one of the most important in our nation's history.

Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollock will be on view from March 3 through April 16, 2011. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, 2011.

For more information about Harry Callahan and Jackson Pollock or press requests, please contact Nicollette Eason at Pace/MacGill Gallery, 212.759.7999 or For general inquiries, please email

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