Fred Herzog: Street Photography At the National Gallery of Canada Until September 5, 2011

Ottawa - June 22, 2011

Downtown cores, working-class neighbourhoods, neon signs, second-hand shops filled with bric-a-brac, newsstands, billboards, and the eccentric displays of mom and pop shops are among Fred Herzog’s favoured topics. Since 1953, he has photographed the street life of Vancouver and other cities, creating an important document of everyday life. Until September 5, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is proud to present Fred Herzog: Street Photography, an installation organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), which brings to light some 30 photographic works from its collection by the Vancouver-based artist.

Fred Herzog was a pioneer in colour photography in Canada at a time when "serious" photographers had an aesthetic preference for black and white film. He used slide film to capture the vivid colours of the street. For Herzog, the energy of a city could only be depicted in full colour, showing not only the activity of its inhabitants and their everyday lives, but also the contexts in which they lived. The artist always presented his images only as slides because he was never satisfied with the quality of colour achievable through printing technologies of the day.

“Without the invention of software and inkjet printing, which has enabled him to faithfully reproduce the colours in his original slides, Fred Herzog’s work might have been overlooked and largely lost to us,” said NGC Director Marc Mayer. “Presuming I had seen everything from this era, I was astonished to discover these extraordinary classic photographs of the fifties and sixties.”

For the most part, he did not pose people, but photographed his subjects unaware, seeking out unusual scenes and spontaneous gestures. Given the times of the subject matter and their manner of presentation, the photographs have a strong nostalgic appeal and as documents, they reveal the many changes that have taken place in Vancouver over the years, writes installation curator and CMCP Associate Curator Andrea Kunard in her article published in the summer 2011 issue of Vernissage, the Gallery’s publication. Most importantly, she continues, in the history of Canadian contemporary photography they represent an early example of photographs that exploit the properties of colour as expressive elements in themselves.



Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Fred Herzog immigrated to Canada in 1952, settling in Vancouver a year later. He made his living as a medical photographer and art instructor at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia. But as Andrea Kunard underlines, his real love was street photography.

Admission and Opening Hours
Tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and full-time students, $4 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $18 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Members of the Gallery, and on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. This includes admission to the NGC Collection. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and until 8 pm on Thursdays.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art, including the extensive collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains the largest touring art exhibition programme in the world. For more information, visit

Source: Andrea Kunard, Associate Curator, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. Fred Herzog: Street Photography. Vernissage, Summer 2011, National Gallery of Canada, p. 25

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