Maritime Mural, 1960
Archival pigment print
50.8 x 76.2 cm.
Courtesy the artist and Equinox Gallery, Vancouver
Fred Herzog’s oeuvre is significant, not only as a vivid record of postwar Vancouver but also as pioneering colour photography. Determined to capture the visual liveliness of the world, Herzog shot almost entirely on Kodachrome colour slide film at a time when art photography was almost exclusively in black and white. Shortly after emigrating from Germany in 1953, he began a focused study of Vancouver’s urban fabric and has not stopped since. Drawn to vernacular architecture and places in transition, his astute observations have become rare documents of the city’s history.
Herzog developed new techniques for exploring the formal qualities of colour. Maritime Mural demonstrates his keen eye for detail and mastery of colour, with the shipwrights’ deep shadows visually anchored by the ship’s rusted, blue-orange hull. He would have waited patiently for the dramatic light conditions that illuminate the collage of textures. This photograph recalls the artist’s early years in Vancouver when he worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway ships in the port before joining the University of British Columbia as a medical photographer, and is an early example of his penchant for documenting waterfront scenes.
Presentation House Gallery was one of the first galleries to exhibit Herzog’s work in 1986 and since his retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2007 he has gained wide acclaim. Fred Herzog (b. 1930, Stuttgart, Germany) has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, including the touring show Eyes Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography (2015) and Cartier Bresson: A Question of Colour (2013) at Somerset House, London, UK. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Audain Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts and he has an honorary doctorate from Emily Carr University (2010). His work is in major public and private collections across North America, and he is the subject of several monographs with a forthcoming book published by Steidl. Herzog is represented by Equinox Gallery, Vancouver.