Almost ten years ago in 2007 Howard Greenberg published An American Gallery to celebrate his 25th year in photography. In it he showed 25 photographs drawn from his collection. Howard is a tremendous gallery owner and and a really nice person! This book is a marvel and Howard’s comments, which accompany the pictures, reveal his great passion for photography. Every two weeks for the next year we will serialise the book. Today, this is Hastings-on Hudson, Fall 1963 by Dave Heath.
"When I was a young photographer, my bible, if you will, was the photographic quarterly Aperture, edited by Minor White. I couldn’t wait until the next issue arrived in the mail. And then I would consume it. I would look at it and read it again and again until I had digested every square inch of the magazine. There weren’t many fine art photography periodicals around, and in those days White was very influential. I was learning, and Aperture was important in developing my vision, my philosophy and my understanding of photography.
One day in 1971, an issue arrived in the mail and this photograph was on the cover. It grabbed me. It burned itself deep in my soul.
And what was so special about this photograph is not such a surprising thing, because it is the same thing that makes many photographs work-light.
What light does to objects. What light does to the world around us. How light in a black and white photograph creates abstraction, which molded and shaped by the techniques and processes of photography can yield a statement with great emotional meaning.
This photograph embodied all of that for me. It was really what photography was all about. How the light hit her glasses, sculpted her sweater, glanced off the shoulder of the person almost invisibly next to her. How it created an ethereal impressionistic landscape. How it illuminated her face in a way that took her far out of the context of the real world into a realm that was at once universal and symbolic, investing her with meaning far beyond her own identity.
All of this was right there in front of my eyes and I found it enormously moving.
I didn’t know that much about photography when I first saw this picture. I was at the very beginning of my education, and I was teaching myself. I did not go to school and sit in classes and have the opportunity to discuss these things. It was all self-discovery. I saw in this picture a heightened moment, an epiphany. In learning about photography I was learning about myself; an internal dialogue which this picture could bring me closer to.
Many years later I met Dave Heath and acquired the very print that was used for the reproduction of the cover of Aperture. I hung it in my bedroom where I could look at it every day."