What do photographers Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and William Eggleston have in common? The answer almost certainly hangs from the Houk Gallery walls in 'Pioneers of Color', an exhibition revisiting the emergence of color photography through the earlier works of Shore, Meyerowitz, and Eggleston.
These photographers, among others, were responsible for leading their medium from the commercial world to the art world, and through a sea of controversy.
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JOEL MEYEROWITZ is a photographer. But what he heard yesterday was almost as important as what he saw: the sounds of children squealing with delight as they played on the cascading marble steps of the Winter Garden.
He remembered five years ago when this vast public space in Battery Park City, opposite the World Trade Center, was so desolate, so silent, that he felt as if he ought to shout “Hello” to no one in particular (since no one else was there), simply out of the need to make and hear a human sound.
It grows easier with every passing day to forget the extent of devastation downtown from the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. So Mr. Meyerowitz’s photographs of the immediate aftermath — many of them being shown for the first time — carry almost more of a visceral impact today than they would have five years ago.
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Joel Meyerowitz is recognized as one of the earliest and most accomplished advocates of color fine art photography, and today he is among the world's most prominent and respected documentarians. He was the only photographer to be given unimpeded access to Ground Zero in the wake of 9/11. The images he captured have formed the foundation of a major national archive, and an exhibition of selected images has travelled to more than 200 cities in 60 countries. He has since produced over a dozen photo-books, and a full survey of his career was published by Phaidon in 2010.
Joel Meyerowitz began taking photographs in 1962. Although he has always seen himself as a street photographer in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank (he is the co-author of the standard work on the genre, Bystander: A History of Street Photography, Bulfinch Press, 1994) he transformed the mode with his pioneering use of color. His first book, Cape Light (1978), is a much beloved classic of color photography and has sold more than 100,000 copies. And in Wild Flowers (1983) he also demonstrated a comic appreciation for the blending of nature and artifice on ordinary city streets. He has since turned his attention to portraits (Redheads, 1991), and landscape (Tuscany: Inside the Light, 2003), and in 1998 he produced and directed his first film, Pop, an intimate diary of a three-week road trip made with his son, Sasha, and his aging father, Hy. More recently, Meyerowitz has spent three years capturing wild areas in New York City's parks. Selections from the project were exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York (2009-10), and they have been published in Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks (Aperture, 2009).
Joel Meyerowitz lives and works in New York. Among his first important exhibitions were those at Eastman House, Rochester, in 1966, and "My European Trip" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1968. He represented the United States at the Venice Biennale for Architecture in 2002, and he has been the recipient of over a dozen awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Deutscher Fotobuchpreis. His work can be found in many major public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.