Friday, January 19, 2007

fred herzog

When painting, my choice of subject matter is all over the map, but my photographic passion is definitely urban scenes. I also love 'period pieces', so when I read today about the upcoming Fred Herzog photographic exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery I got pretty excited. The VAG seems to play the two extremes of the art spectrum: crowd-pleaser exhibitions to draw visitors at one end and avant garde events to stimulate the grey matter at the other. The Fred Herzog exhibition is definitely the former but there is plenty to think about, too. The Georgia Straight article is worth the read if you know Vancouver.

There's a glass-half-empty "you young people have ruined everything" flavour to Herzog's remarks, but because he trained his eye on the city for a half century, there's also a lot of truth in his observations. For example, modern Vancouverites know Robson Street as the place to shop. Herzog knew Robson Street as neon signs and German immigrant-run mom-and-pop businesses:

Go to one of the main streets in Singapore now and one of the first things you’ll say is, ‘That looks like Robson Street,’ because all the companies that sell clothes and shoes and watches and electronics offer the same stuff worldwide. And it’s not interesting to me as a photographer.…That’s sad, because each business on that street [Robson] was unique and owned by an individual. Now it’s all part of chains.…The whole street has been replaced. What we have now is not a version of what it was in a more modern style. What we have now is something else.

Robson Street in 1957:

Nothing says 'The '60s' like Lucy, Norris and a Ford Falcon (please correct me if that's not a Ford -- I used to be good at identifying cars from the '60s):

Those of you well-acquainted with this view from the Granville Street Bridge (2004)

check this out (1957):

Vancouver magazine also has an excellent article on Herzog here.

The exhibition runs January 25th until mid-May.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A NZ friend's family lived quite near Robson ST.Wasn't it known as Robson Strasse in those days?

19/1/07 7:15 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Dinah: Yes and it still is sometimes -- as a kind of nod to nostalgia.

20/1/07 7:53 AM  
Blogger Ces said...

These photographs make me long for my childhood when things were simple and I was under the safe and loving care of my parents.

20/1/07 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, the last 2 photographs of Vancouver are like the tale of 2 cities! When I was in landscape arch. school I did a huge research project on Robson Square, Cornelia Oberlander and Arthur Erickson. It was a pretty cool project.

20/1/07 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm very impressed at your knowledge of 1960's cars. I believe that is a 1963 Falcon. Excellent call.
It could have easily been a Chevy II, Rambler, or Dart.

20/1/07 11:22 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Yes it is interesting how you really like urban scenes so... what is it that really appeals to you about them?

21/1/07 3:45 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Ces: I came across some early school photos yesterday and had the same feeling.

Cynthia: Arthu Erickson is like the architectural equivalent here to Emily Carr (an artist every British Columbian knows well!). I always think ice skating when I think of the Robson Square project.

Brian: I got curious so did a little Google search. From what I saw I think it might be a '65. The front end isn't rounded enough and the '63 almost had back fins. (I spent a lot of time in the '70s observing '60s and '70s cars -- it was a design thing I guess but I'm not sure -- I just know that I liked looking at them!)

Caroline: Yay! always the big questions! I think it has something to do with my fascination with retro design, but also the deep genetic stamping of being borne of several generations of architects. I'm also fascinated with social/cultural questions -- nowhere are they as raw and exposed as in downtown neighbourhoods.

21/1/07 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos. I love urban scenes too and enjoy painting them. I was playing tour guide in San Francisco for an Australian visitor last week and on our way across town I took her to the corner of Haight & Ashbury which now has chain stores on every corner, including the Gap and Body Shop and I forget what else...

22/1/07 1:11 AM  
Blogger Within Without said...

Isn't this the second post in a row where Lucille Ball has made an appearance?

Gorgeous pix of a truly gorgeous city.

22/1/07 9:15 AM  

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