Keld Helmer-Petersen (b. Copenhagen 1920, d. 2013)

“The Dailyaide – The Silent Secretary 1951”. Autograph diary for the year 1951 by Danish art photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen. More than 200 pages with autograph notes. The notes are in English and Danish about his every day life during his stay in Chicago in 1951 where he attended Institute of Design and also gave evening classes him self. In the diary he makes accounts of his walks photographing the city of Chicago, his camera settings, his evening classes, his own students as well as the classes he attends himself with Hugo Weber, Guy Pearson and others. Publisher's original cloth binding. Minor wear.

The diary by Danish photographer Keld Helmer-Petersen here presented is from his formative year 1951, when he attended Institute of Design in Chicago lead by reknowned photographer Harry Callahan. The stay was made possible because Helmer-Petersen in 1948 published the ground breaking photo book “122 Colour Photographs”. Life Magazine's editor, Wilson Hicks, discovered the book and in 1949 he published seven pages about Helmer-Petersen and the book in the magazine. His use of colour photography as art was the first of its kind, and published almost 30 years before William Eggleston's exhibition of colour photographs at MoMA, New York. In 2004 Martin Parr and Gerry Badger corrected this inaccuracy in the comprehensive book “Photobook: A History”.

In the diary Helmer-Petersen accounts for his everyday life, his classes with artist Hugo Weber, Guy Pearson and others as well as his photographic tours around Chicago and reflections about photography. He makes small notes like “Fence pattern”, “Steel Framework + ”Skyline“” and “Fire Escape patterns” (2 February 1951) and his work with black and white negatives. On 25 March he writes: “Started out to make more ”Chicago Photographs“. On the Lake Illinois Unis., Grand Ave., all along extreme bl. + white patterns. Very enjoyable + exciting. Then made shots from The Tribune Tower around 5 pm. of the view from the city. River + surface.”. Almost ten years after his return from Chicago Keld Helmer-Petersen published his beautiful and strong formalist black and white photographs from his year in Chicago in the book “Fragments of a city” 1960.

Provenance: The collection of Swedish photographer Bruno Ehrs.


Condition report on request. Please contact: modernart@bruun-rasmussen.dk


Paintings, prints & photos, 25 September 2019


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