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Cover Story

Eleanor Callahan, June 13, 1916-Feb. 28, 2012

Wife and muse of photographer Harry Callahan

Photo: , License: N/A


In an interview, Eleanor once said, "I never initiated any of the poses myself. … Everything, photographically, was purely from Harry." And yet she could recite the detailed directions he gave: cross your legs, foot here, etc. That "everything … from Harry" still seems a little too self-effacing to stand scrutiny. Either the word "everything" or "photographically" is game to be contested.

The Los Angeles art dealer Stephen White, quoted in the Los Angeles Times obit, seems closer to a truth: "Eleanor went beyond being Harry's companion, wife and the mother of his child. She was an additional F-stop on his lens. Through her, he saw form and structure more clearly, both in nature and in the world. She was present in his photographs even when she wasn't in them. Eleanor was Harry Callahan's collaborator, for she rested inside his psyche."

Eleanor Callahan died on Feb. 28 at age 95 in Atlanta. One wonders how often she appears in the 100,000 negatives Harry left behind when he died in 1999.

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