Eleanor Callahan, who died Tuesday in Atlanta, was a haunting and humanizing presence in the photographs of Harry Callahan, whose work is on display at a National Gallery retrospective through March 4.
As his wife and model, she was a muse, a companion and in the 1940s and ‘50s, a persistent subject for Callahan. He could turn her body into a Cycladic statue, or dematerialize in a haze. He often photographed her naked, though it was never exploitative. She remembers he would suddenly announce, “‘Take off your clothes.’ And that would be that.” The results were sculptural, topographic and sometimes simply sweet and sentimental. Eleanor visited the current NGA show, and she arranged a substantial contribution of Callahan’s work to the gallery.
Read a review of “Harry Callahan at 100.”