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Harry Callahan: Photographer, Teacher, Mentor

Photographers Ray Metzker, Emmet Gowin, and Jim Dow with Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Photography was not invented until the mid-19th century, and the process was not widely taught as an art form until World War II. In 1946 famed Bauhaus photographer and painter László Moholy-Nagy recruited Harry Callahan to teach at the Institute of Design he had established in Chicago. One of the most important schools of photography in 20th-century America, the institute championed such qualities as serendipity and experimentation, setting new standards for the medium and attracting students who would become some of the nation’s finest photographers. While reflecting on his time as a professor, Callahan said, “teaching taught me how little I knew and it forced me to think; I had to teach to get an education.” In this program recorded on March 23, 1996, at the National Gallery of Art, Callahan’s students Ray Metzker, Emmet Gowin, and Jim Dow—all photographers in their own right—recount experiences of their friend and mentor. This program was held in celebration of the exhibition Harry Callahan, on view from March 3 to May 22, 1996, at the National Gallery of Art.