December 14, 2017

The Odd, Otherwordly Glow of Fred Herzog’s Photography

New York Times Magazine
Geoff Dyer
December 14, 2017

Just down the road from where I live, a store is trying out a new retail marriage: pricey eyewear and photography books. Its patron saint ought to be Ralph Eugene Meatyard, who was an optician and a photographer, but his books, as far as I could make out, were nowhere to be seen. The volume in the window that caught my eye — possibly because the cover image was of a (barber)shop window — was Fred Herzog’s “Modern Color.” Herzog’s work offers the latest instance of a form of eye exam that has enjoyed increasing visibility in the last several years.

Traditionally, exams test your knowledge of the syllabus. These latest exams, by contrast, reveal the syllabus to be in a state of constant revision. Histories of photography require enough newly discovered names to be inserted in the middle chapters as to shuffle or reshape the accepted narrative. Especially when it comes to color. So much color work, it turns out, was being done before William Eggleston’s paradigm-shifting show of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1976. Along with Saul Leiter, Luigi Ghirri and others, Herzog is a pioneer who mastered color photography before such a thing respectably existed.

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Image Credit:
Copyright Fred Herzog
Jackpot, 1961