Harry Callahan
Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago, ca. 1954

Harry Callahan was a most unlikely artist. A college dropout with no training or interest in art, he bought his first camera while clerking in the accounting department of the Chrysler Corporation in Detroit. He did not come to photography seeking a means to express himself, but, rather, through photography, accidentally discovered his inner artist.

His primary subjects are the things he knew best: the natural and built landscapes of the Midwest and his nuclear family. At once a portrait and a compositional study, this photograph of his wife, Eleanor, and his daughter, Barbara, exemplifies Callahan’s commitment to formal experimentation. Here he successfully composes his shot around a telephone pole that rigidly bisects the picture plane.

A revered teacher at the Institute of Design in Chicago and, later, the Rhode Island School of Design, Callahan inspired legions of students with his cool, clean aesthetic.

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago
Artist name
Harry Callahan
Date created
ca. 1954
gelatin silver print
7 11/16 in. × 9 5/8 in. (19.53 cm × 24.45 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Virginia Hassel Ballinger in memory of Paul Hassel
© Estate of Harry Callahan
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Other Works by Harry Callahan

See other works by Harry Callahan

Please note that artwork locations are subject to change, and not all works are on view at all times. If you are planning a visit to SFMOMA to see a specific work of art, we suggest you contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to confirm it will be on view.

Only a portion of SFMOMA's collection is currently online, and the information presented here is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify collection holdings and artwork information. If you are interested in receiving a high resolution image of an artwork for educational, scholarly, or publication purposes, please contact us at copyright@sfmoma.org.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.