12 Jan 2012

Evelyn Hofer, a great photographer

I was fortunate over the holidays to drop in to my favourite second hand book shop. A while back I came across an original catalogue for the Family of Man exhibition so I always cross its threshold with a lovely sense of possibility, often dissipated. On this occasion however I found real treasure. Not a great rarity but a book whose cover had really made an impression on me when I saw it first time around, a monograph of Evelyn Hofer

With the luxury of looking at it at home and not furtively in a shop I was really absorbed by her images of Dublin in the sixties. A place and time with resonance in my own life. Despite appearances to the contrary I do enjoy colour photography. The particular light evoked in those images so integral to their representation of time and place I can only stand and stare. The portraits anonymous, for the most part, but complicit. Subjects soulful.
Girl with Bicycle, Dublin 1966, Evelyn Hofer
Girl with Bicycle, Dublin 1966, Evelyn Hofer
Her work is so wonderful and so largely unknown that, not for the first time, I wonder how quickly we rush to form a view on the Canon of Great Photographers. It's human nature of course. We all need our Top Ten songs, film stars...paint names [no? maybe that's just me].
There's the occasional Vivian Maier to upset the status quo but there is so much great work to discover and enjoy. Not every photograph that can be taken has been taken! Or at least found.
In the meantime I'll keep riffling through the shelves of pre-loved books, open for persuasion.