17
Feb
12

Exhibition: ‘Color Correction’ by Ernst Haas at Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 20th January – 25th February 2012

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Many thankx to Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986)

New York
1980
C-print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

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Ernst Haas (1921–1986)

New Orleans
1957
C-print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

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Ernst Haas (1921–1986)
Western Skies Motel
1978
C-Print, later print
76.2 x 101.6 (30 x 40 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

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“Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. Without touching my subject I want to come to the moment when, through pure concentration of seeing, the composed picture becomes more made than taken. Without a descriptive caption to justify its existence, it will speak for itself – less descriptive, more creative; less informative, more suggestive – less prose, more poetry.”

Ernst Haas from ‘About Color Photography’, in DU, 1961

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Christophe Guye Galerie is proud to present Color Correction: by one of the most important and influential artists in the development of colour photography and the history of the medium on a whole, this exhibition spotlights a body of work that poignantly describes the complex ways in which an artist’s ‘career’ took form. Ernst Haas belonged to the best known, most productive and widely published photographers of the twentieth century. Most commonly associated with vibrant colour photography, Haas was famed for his commercial work. It is undoubtedly however his other, private work that really illuminates the power of his sensibility and his true mastery. Unfortunately this side of his creative output has been kept private and thus escaped posthumous appreciation. It is only now, with the efforts and belief in Haas’ ability of a few, such as William Ewing, former Director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, that this body of work is finally revealed and justly let’s this artist’s aptitude shine. The exhibition Color Correction, and Ewing’s corresponding book published by Steidl, uncovers, with an exciting and novel view, the “other” side of Ernst Haas’ visionary.

Color Correction is the first exhibition in Switzerland to present the to-date little known, non-commission work by the late Austrian-born photographer. Uncovering a new side to a much celebrated body of work, the show will include fifteen new and mostly never before seen large format works, alongside a handpicked selection of rare, vintage dye-transfer prints from the 1950s and ’60s. These astoundingly complex and ultimately enveloping pieces form a group exhibited under the title Colour Correction to coincide with the recent Steidl publication Color Correction, by William Ewing. “These images are of great sophistication, and rival (and sometimes surpass) the best of his colleagues, says Ewing, revealing works “far more edgy, loose, enigmatic, and ambiguous than his celebrated work.”

“Color correction” is a term used in printing, through which the inked proofs are brought into as close equivalence as possible with the original photograph. Ewing has chosen to use the term metaphorically, to suggest “we owe it to Ernst Haas and our understanding of the history of colour photography, to reevaluate his importance in light of this marvellous imagery, kept under wraps for so many years.” It was in 1962 that the first ever colour photography exhibition, Ernst Haas Color Photography, was held at the prestigious MoMA in New York, and not until fourteen years later would colour photography be given another show at the museum with Color Photography by William Eggleston. Though introducing Haas’ work to a large audience and a major milestone in the history of the medium it would not come to have the same effect on the development of the artist’s career. On the contrary: an exhibition planned by Edward Steichen, renowned photographer and curator of MoMA at the time, it was in the end his predecessor John Szakowski who would actually see it realised. With this shift in curatorial visionary, Szakowski would enforce a different taste. Having the duty to complete Steichen’s idea, but keen to champion his own and dissimilar ideas, Szakowski’s enthusiasm regarding the artist and the exhibition Ernst Haas Color Photography was meek, the praise in his accompanying texts all but faint. Steichen, once in favour of pictorialism, thus a subjective photography, valued Haas’ profound use of the camera, while Szakowski on the other hand chose to favour a less embellished sentiment; a more hardedge modernist inspired American approach. It was this disregard and clashing of personal agendas that would ultimately and erroneously see Haas excluded from the canon of colour photography; his indisputable talent became the victim of the cyclical debate of what art photography should be.

Making his first colour photographs in 1949, Haas was a member of the prestigious Magnum agency. Known mainly for his commissioned work, whereby he created influential imagery such as iconic Marlboro Man advertisements long before other artists were commissioned to do so, Haas’ work would come to have great influence on later artists, such as Richard Prince, Marc Quinn or Robert Longo. Using colour also for his personal work, with a pictorial language recalling at times the works by painter Edward Hopper, Haas has been described as a poet photographer. By no means the first to use the medium in colour, he was said to be “the first to do it masterfully.” Visionary, Haas early on cropped and abstracted, photographing against the light and out of focus, using reflections, close-up to mystify the visible, abstraction of colour and texture. Interested in the everyday, his photographs remind of the likes of Lee Friedlander or Stephan Shore, but rather than documents his works are “vignettes of personal experience.” The works on display in Color Correction reveal this more abstract side of the artist’s oeuvre.

Haas’ work never received the recognition it deserved. The works presented at Christophe Guye Galerie are based upon this dispute, attempting to reveal the true ability of Haas’ work and restore his rightful place in the medium’s canon.

Haas’ formal language echoes decades past while being extremely contemporary at once. Often shooting inches away from the subject at acute and unexpected angles, Haas work was visionary. Lyrical, evocative, and expressive, while at the same time exact, the artist moved away from obvious reality, finding fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. The works on view are to be understood not as informative but as creative; description gives way to suggestion. Color Correction - the exhibition as well as the book – show works that are rich, vibrant, and intelligent alike. With this new view on the body of work of one of the medium’s most important advocates, Color Correction hopes to evoke the excitement Steichen expressed when he first came across Haas imaginarium of seeing: “In my estimation we have experienced an epoch in photography. Here is a free spirit, untrammelled by tradition and theory, who has gone out and found beauty unparalleled in photography.”

Press release from the Christophe Guye Galerie website

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Ernst Haas (1921–1986)
Bronco Rider, California
1957
C-print, later print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Edition of 15
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

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Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986)
California, USA
1976
C-print, later print
101,6 x 76,2 cm (40 x 30 in.)
Courtesy of Ernst Haas and Christophe Guye Galerie

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Christophe Guye Galerie
Dufourstrasse 31
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
T: +41 44 252 01 11

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Christophe Guye Galerie website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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