Thursday, 24 November 2016

The joy of color

The idea for this wonderful book of photos came from Graham Howe in 2005, he suggested it focus on the more abstract images that Haas had taken over more than three decades, most of which had not been seen before. The title is a reprint of the 2011 Steidl edition, and now, fortunately, you don't have to pay the large sums that the original sells for.

What I find so fascinating about these photos is the way Haas captures the commonplace, here are shots from the man-made landscape available for everyone to see but, of course, we don't, it takes the eye of a very creative photographer to bring it to our attention. In Philip Prodger's essay he says Haas frequently went out to take photos for himself and the majority of the 186 pictures in the book are in this style. Throughout the pages there is an excellent selection of surface work (rather reminiscent of the close-up texture photos by Aaron Siskind) detail from torn posters, peeling paint, fragments of leaves, sidewalk detritus.  What gives this work an extra lift is the way Haas creates depth by having the background out of focus and a shape in the foreground, add some black around the edges and suddenly the picture on the page is more intriguing yet it could just be a painted number on a wall.

The earliest work is from 1952, the last from 1986. I recognized four (there maybe more) from the two long photo essays about New York that appeared in the September 14 and 21, 1953 editions of Life (incidentally you can see these on Google, it has archived all the issues of the magazine). I would guess that three-quarters of the book's contents are of the US and especially New York and other work from Europe. The back pages have a location and date caption but as Prodger says 'Because of the way he photographed, it is impossible to tell where he made a given photograph based on appearance alone. Haas often took his pictures inches away from the subject at acute and unexpected angles.'

Color correction is a book of remarkable photos, especially as most of them have not been seen before and I think they reveal much more about Haas art than his best selling Creation or In America books.

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