Fred Herzog immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1952 and began documenting the Vancouver cityscape a year later. He favoured the working class neighbourhoods and downtown city core - areas that were in complete contrast to the ordered cities of Germany. His passion for photography resulted in a large body of work depicting Vancouver during the postwar era, at a time when capitalism and consumer culture was burgeoning.

Herzog both revels in and critiques North American culture, blurring distinctions between the city’s effervescence and its overindulgence. While he was not familiar with Marshall McLuhan until 1964, Herzog embarked upon a similar investigation, which began in 1957. They shared a common interest in the figure/ground relationship that shaped urban environments, as evident in Herzog’s documentation of the city and the cultural transformation that resulted from the emergence of new technologies.

Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art

Curated by Andrea Kunard and Bonnie Rubenstein