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Thursday, 12 September 2019


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I only discovered Fred Herzog because of T.O.P. Thank You
I immediately ordered Modern Color and wondered 'how could I not have known about him?'.

When an artist works year after year, then decade after decade with essentially no recognition , and does not bend to fashion or changing tastes, it says a great deal about their strength of vision and character.
Anonymity does not always equate to the quality of work but sometimes it should warrant a second look. It is great that he was recognized in his lifetime, others as you point out were not so lucky.

Fred Herzog's photography has been a very big deal for me and my photography.
I admire and appreciate everything Robert Frank brought to photography. I have several books of Frank's work. However for me, someone that pursues photography only as part of my day-to-day life, Herzog was such a wonderful voice of the common everyday perspective.
Whether Frank intended to or not, his work always seemed to insist on a certain level of bravery that I've never been willing to incorporate in my photography.
In any case, both were giants in my pantheon of photographers; thank you to both!


Many thanks for letting us know about Fred Herzog's passing. A friend loaned me his copy of Modern Color just a couple of weeks ago and I became an instant admirer of Fred and his work. After reading your post today, I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of Vancouver Photographs. I am sure that I will treasure it. Thanks for the link to Fred's books.

Rob Griffin

It is only fair to point out that Herzog's legacy in Canada was tainted by his self-admission as a holocaust denier. Herzog left Europe for Canada in 1952, and spent his formative years in Nazi Germany. A summary is provided in
Many other famous artists have expressed themselves in unattractive ways, and their work is still admired and revered. Caravaggio appears to have been a murderer: more recently Terry Richardson has been accused of sexual assault (which he denies). Herzog's output in no way reflects his private world views, and perhaps on the occasion of his death his images should be viewed as his only legacy.

[I'll allow this comment, because I don't want to engage in anything that looks like censorship, but I've had to research this more than I've wanted to, and I would object to your characterization. The Globe and Mail article in no way amounts to a "self admission as a holocaust denier." The article, which I find biased on the part of the reporter, and which is the wellspring of these libels against Herzog, paints a picture only of a thoughtful person grappling with overwhelmingly difficult global issues far beyond our control--as we all do. Herzog apologized and retracted his rationalizations on the spot, and then clearly went on to do more research on his own because he was troubled by the topic, after which he further modified his views and admitted to doing so. How is that not an open-minded response? If he had been a Nazi party member, or a concentration camp guard, or a real holocaust denier, then I would understand and agree. But what you are suggesting is that he should be "tainted" simply for being willing to discuss a sensitive issue in an interview, and that this taint should override anything and everything else he did or was. That would be unfair and unjust in my opinion in this case.

Let's not discuss this further for now. We might take up the topic at a later time, but not immediately in the wake of Mr. Herzog's passing. --Mike]

Thank you for introducing me to Fred Herzog’s work. I just looked through his pictures at the Equinox Gallery link and, as you point out, there is much in his approach that is quite relevant to photography as it is practiced today.

As a frequent visitor to Vancouver, B.C., for many years, I was especially pleased by the way he documented the city’s downtown peninsula as it looked before the surge of development during the last quarter-century transformed it—replacing its gritty West Coast character with block after block of glossy high-rise Asia-inspired skyscrapers. Not only are many of Herzog’s Vancouver photographs striking purely as images, they also capture the city’s regional character before globalization obliterated much of it.

I grew up in a Vancouver suburb and lived downtown in the late 60's early 70's. I look at his photographs and remember those places, the old wood frame houses of Seymour St. Main Street railway overpass, the CPR terminal, False Creek industry - all is changed. His work is so much more than documentary it is social history and life.

I picked up a copy of Modern Color about a month ago. Fred Herzog's use of color is as good as I've ever seen and I never tire of looking through it. The images come across as timeless and feel fresh and new. A true marvel. I remembered your mention of him and when I saw his book, I leafed through it a bit and bought it. Thanks.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Two of my Photographic heroes gone on the same day.

In 2012 I stumbled into an area of Vancouver named Strathcona, a trendy up and coming old neighbourhood with some interesting buildings. One afternoon while roaming the streets looking for material worth photographing a car pulled up to the curb ahead of me, parked and out stepped this very European looking elderly gentleman with a jaunty beret .... Is that who I think it is? I hitched up my courage, approached him and asked "Are you Fred Herzog?" "I am" he replied. He was on his way to meet some photo buddies for coffee and a photo walk around the neighbourhood and invited me to join them for coffee. What a treat and such a genial gentleman. I saw two of his exhibitions, one of them at the Equinox Gallery. If you think the books are impressive, imagine the images printed 30x40 on a white gallery wall ... jaw dropingly stunning. Fred belongs in the pantheon with the likes of Ernst Haas for pioneering the art of colour photography. He's a hometown boy and I got to shake his hand and have coffee with him. What A Joy! Sleep Well Fred.

I never met Robert Frank, but Rick Pelletier an acquaintance of mine and a member of one of my print groups studied under him in Nova Scotia. Rick blessed me with the stunning complement that my work reminded him of Robert Frank, which was at the time a little baffling since i'd never heard of Robert Frank. I looked him up and instantly fell in love. To be compared with such monumental talent ... speechless! Sleep Well Mr. Frank.

This is terribly sad. Coincidentally, while trying to work out if I own a copy of The Americans (it seems I don't although I'm sure I do: my filing system is not very good) I found my copy of Modern Color & have been looking at it. I did not realise he had died.

I just looked through my copy of "Vancouver Photographs" which I bought when you first posted about Fred Herzog. He truly was a master photographer. And I really miss the color palette of Kodachrome. So luscious looking. I like to shoot street and urban photographs. Having reviewed my copy of "The Americans" yesterday and this book today, I am struck by how difficult it is to do such work today. So much of America has become homogenized. Strips of big box stores and Starbucks abound. I think I need to look harder…

Thanks for recognizing Fred's passing and promoting his work ... I was concerned his passing would be overlooked in light of it being on the same day as Robert Frank. Herzog's 'Vancouver Photographs' is brilliant.

I think Mr Herzog work is terrific but as you say since he has been tagged regional photog him and that Vivian lady will always be where they are now.

I love Herzog's work. I discovered it less than a decade ago, around the same time I discovered Saul Leiter's work. I saw a major Herzog show at the National Gallery in Ottawa, and a Leiter show in a small private gallery in Santa Monica, and the two shows really shook me and gave me a whole different perspective on mid-century color photography.

I would agree...a great street photographer, and a great colour photographer. I was lucky enough to see a show of his work a few years ago and the memory of seeing the prints in person stays with me.
From across the room the geometry of his compositions stood out and could have been transformed into abstract paintings. At a closer view the genius of the details he included is evident. Sometimes amusing, sometimes slightly sad, his photographs reflect the human condition in the 1950s and 60s of Vancouver.

Back in the mid-seventies, I attended a suburban university that had an active art department. They would display work by Canadian artists in the hallways. At that time, magic realism was in vogue and there were fantastic, vivid paintings by Ken Danby, Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt and Alex Colville that could be purchased at the time for around $300. It wasn't a small sum and, as a poor student, I couldn't even think of buying any art. I still regret the missed opportunity.

A few years ago (2012 I believe), Fred Herzog's art was featured in a show at Toronto's Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), a gallery that has now morphed into MOCA and re-located. I saw the show and was completely blown away by the colour, the vibrancy and the rawness with which it portrayed Vancouver street life in the 50's and 60's. I wasn't about to make the same mistake twice, so I contacted Herzog's dealer and bought two prints, Red Stockings (https://www.equinoxgallery.com/artists/fred-herzog/art/20991) and Hub and Lux (http://www.vancouversun.com/1958+detai+Copyright+Fred+Herzog/7996773/story.html). The prints were not too expensive and I was glad to support a living artist.

Today, I get great joy from looking at these prints in my family room every day and I would encourage all your readers to take some of the money that otherwise would be spent on GAS and buy art instead. There are so many wonderful modern artists and photographers to choose from - the galleries are stuffed with goodies. You just have to get out and explore.

I first came across Fred Herzog on a chance visit to the Art Gallery of Vancouver( a rain day activity, go figure) in 2006. I was absolutely mesmerized by the colour and soulfulness of his photos.
Just finished ordering “Modern Colour”, can’t wait for it’s arrival

After reflecting on your efforts on behalf of Mr. Herzoz and since you probably know more bloggers (photo) in the industry., why not propose to them a Herzog (color) vs Frank (BW) contest. On their sites then the winners from each site compete then two or three top current pros pick the the winners from the winners. Maybe get some Camera co or Retailer offer prize. I don’t know Mr. Herzog work to suggest a category but like you the lines of my hand by Frank keeps sucking me in,if I could suggest those last pics of his from a bus window or car or plane on a runway, or moped would make for some great shots. Anyway thanks for letting a 72 yr old newbie at this photo stuff run off at the mouth. Me Leica X1/2 and Ricoh GR11

Very sad to hear of his passing, Modern Colour (sorry, Canadian spelling) was a revelation. Unfortunately for me I was not aware of his contribution to photography till 2014. I'm glad I finally found his work but saddened it took me this long.
His book was especially poignant for me since I spent 1999 to 2011 walking those same streets at all hours of the day and night with camera in hand. Wonderful city for street photography but of course that could be said of just about any city we all happen to find ourselves in.

On a side note my digging around the interweb suggests that the Vancouver Sun was the first N. American newspaper to go completely digital. Somewhere in the early or mid nineties if memory serves. Perhaps someone else can retire this notion if incorrect.

Sad news. I learned about him for the first time here, in TOP. I ordered his book "Fred Herzog: Modern Color" through Amazon. The book arrived with some damage on the cover. After admiring the content I decided to keep it and put it on the coffee table in my living room, along with some already worn-out books by other photographers. I immediately ordered a second copy that arrived in perfect condition which I keep as a treasure. I really love his Vancouver images, and they are also loved by visitors, family and friends, who come to my place. It is the most admired book on my coffee table. Every nice city should have a Fred Herzog

Thanks to Nic (Solarider on DPR) for letting me about this piece on Mr. Herzog and can't disagree with any comments from the above folks.

As for me, I met Mr. Herzog through my photo retail work in Vancouver and, on occasion, I would go out for lunch with Fred and a friend of his, Norm. I would chitchat with them, but, mostly, I would glean photographic info from the both of them. One surprising moment came in July 2017, when we, the store I work at, brought in a number of a Leica Magasine (LFI(?)) as there was piece about Mr. Herzog and a number of his photos. The surprising part was when Mr. Herzog gave us all a copy and signed it us. I was gobsmacked to say the least but, that was the way Fred was ... a generous person and photographer :)

I had not seen much of Fred’s work before visiting the Equinox site so it was a pleasant surprise to find 162 pictures available. I’ve looked at the Equinox set several times now and there are at least a dozen pictures I’d love to own. I am now a fan. The colors are of course a big draw for me but there are two rather muted pictures that really jumped out at me. The picture titled Two White Cars – Quebec seems otherworldly and at first glance doesn’t look real. It looks like it could have been shot on the back lot of a movie studio. The second one is titled Bible Reader and I just find this image to be very restful. I can imagine the man stopping at this window often on his way home from work. Thanks for the heads up on Fred Herzog.

I went to google and saw his work. I immediately ordered Modern Colours.

These colours are amazing. I dont think digital can copy that?

Good to know that Vancouver´s online newspaper (reader supported) "The Tyee"also has an excellent obituary - essay about Fred Herzog.

Thank you for the heads up Mike.
I ordered Modern Color from your link, it arrived yesterday, enjoying it today. Excellent book, beautiful images, blue MGA page 191.

That's a nice portrait, and particularly suitable for a memorial for a photographer (I'm assuming that's one of his photos in the background).

But what I'm struck by is how much the structure resembles a lot of selfies -- placing the person's face in the foreground, relating to some particular object in the background. The perspective shows it's taken from further back, which makes the face look a lot more human, but otherwise....

Thank you for calling my attention to Fred Herzog. I was aware of him, but had never really taken a serious look at his work. I ordered Modern Color and have just finished the first of what I'm sure will be many times looking at it. Absolutely brilliant, wonderful work.

Totally agree about Herzog. What makes his street photos unique is that they contain a level of intimacy and familiarity that gives them a unique texture. You get the sense that Herzog was continually rediscovering the familiar.

Regarding my previous post admiring blue MGA page 191 “Brockton Point, 1957”.

Page 43, blue MGA parked at side of road “Anvil Island, 1960” could this be Mr. Herzog’s ride?

This is the full video, of which Nic, above, has posted a link to a shortened version. Unfortunately this has been uploaded only in low resolution but nevertheless well worth watching it.


“Every nice city deserves a Fred Herzog”
^ this

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