January 26 – April 28, 2013
Born in 1930, Fred Herzog immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1953. He had become interested in photography as a young man in Germany, and shortly after he arrived in Vancouver, Herzog began taking photographs in downtown streets and working class neighbourhoods.
"In 1957 I became a medical photographer, and almost at the same time I became a serious documentary photographer. The reason I chose documentary photography — I didn’t even know that word — [was] I had great fun walking around the old streets of Vancouver, looking at the second-hand stores, the people and the signs. To me, that was a kind of vitality that spoke to me directly."
Herzog’s images show the character of the people and scenes of the urban landscape. He was not interested in posing his photographs, but rather in capturing moments in time as people went about their own private business, seemingly unaware of the photographer.
In his images of shabby second-hand shops and seedy cafés, vibrant neon signs and billboards add colour and texture to city streetscapes. In a departure from the accepted practice of his time, Herzog was one of the first photographers in Canada to use colour film. In the 1950s, the art community associated the use of colour with the world of advertising and dismissed its application in fine art photography. Unfortunately for Herzog, just as colour film gained acceptance, realism and documentary photography fell out of favour and so, again, Herzog seemed to be out of step with the practices of the broader artistic community.
Today, however, Herzog’s work has received wider critical recognition and its value as a record of Vancouver’s growth over a half-century has been hailed by both the artistic and heritage communities.
Fred Herzog Quote from Fred Herzog: Philosophy of photography Fred Herzog in his own words, from interviews with John Mackie of the Vancouver Sun in June, 2005, and January, 2007 http://bit.ly/BIemE