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NONFICTION | IN BRIEF

August 18, 1996|Susan Salter Reynolds

HARRY CALLAHAN by Sarah Greenough (National Gallery of Art/Little, Brown and Company: $50, 199 pp.). This outstanding catalog breaks new ground by placing Callahan's photographs, traditionally exhibited by subject matter to reflect Callahan's technical experiments, in chronological order. The effect, which Greenough (a curator at the National Gallery) compares to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," reveals, as Harry Callahan intended, his "instinctive visual life. Not through storytelling photographs, but through something that has developed from an enormous body of work."

Born in 1912, Callahan began to photograph when he was a 26-year-old clerk in the shipping department at Chrysler Motors in Detroit. He moved to Chicago in 1946, spent many years there and in Providence, R.I., and now lives in Atlanta with his wife, Eleanor. "I have always lived in simple places," the photographer writes. "There is nothing extraordinary about these places, but somehow I find them beautiful."

Most of the photographs in this collection are of Detroit, Chicago and his wife. But they are so varied in texture, context and technique that later photographs of Aix-en-Provence, New York, Ireland, Peru and Morocco seem almost baroque.

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