Ferry Barber Shop, 1959 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Black Man Pender, 1958 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
The Vancouver of the 1950s and 1960s has vanished. The wooden houses have been replaced by concrete, and the wide streets have narrowed and filled. But before Vancouver changed, it was photographed in color by Fred Herzog.
Born in Germany in 1930, Ulrich Herzog arrived in Vancouver at the age of twenty-three. He took a job at a cargo ship, where he was given the name “Fritz” and later “Fred.” He later cut his teeth working as a medical photographer and devoted hours upon hours to his newfound passion for shooting the streets in Kodachrome.
David Campany, in his essay new book Fred Herzog / Modern Color by Hatje Cantz, wonders whether Herzog, now in his mid-eighties, ever intended his 100,000-plus photographs to be seen by future generations. Whatever the artist’s motivations, the slides could not be properly printed on paper until the digital age, making them specific not only to the era in which they were made but also to our own.
A solid decade before Sternfeld, Eggleston, Misrach, and Shore, Herzog’s choice of positive color film was an odd and prophetic one. Until the mid-1970s, black and white was obvious and common choice, but Herzog didn’t fall prey to that pretension.
In a beautiful essay for the retrospective book, Jeff Wall writes a sort of eulogy to the Vancouver of years gone by. He loves his city and mourns the loss of the second-hand shops, the canvas awnings, and the enamel paint of vintage cars.
Still, Wall warns us against nostalgia. Fred Herzog’s Vancouver is important not because it’s gone and not because we’re feeling maudlin. It’s important because it happened and because it was lovely.
Find Fred Herzog / Modern Color here.
Elysium Cleaners, 1958 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Jackpot, 1961 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Red Stockings, 1961 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Boat Scrapers 1, 1964 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Empty Barber Shop, 1966 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Liquid Foods, 1968 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Main Barber, 1968 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
Self-Portrait, 1959 © Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery