Pioneers of Color

Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, William Eggleston

New York

February 25 – April 24, 2010

Joel Meyerowitz
Florida, 1968

Joel Meyerowitz
Truro, 1976

William Eggleston
Untitled (poster in hallway), Memphis, TN, 1970 [From Dust Bells 2]

William Eggleston
Untitled (Car and Bicycles in Garage), Memphis, TN, 1970 [From Dust Bells 2]

William Eggleston
Untitled (Torch Cafe billboard), Mississippi, 1973 [From Dust Bells 2]

William Eggleston
Untitled (brown house in sunshine), Memphis, TN, 1971-74 [From Dust Bells 2]

William Eggleston
Untitled (Photograph of Child on Bureau), Sumner, MS, 1970 [From Dust Bells 2]

William Eggleston
Untitled (Couple in Red Car at Drive-In Restaurant), Memphis, TN, 1965-68 [From Dust Bells 2]

Joel Meyerowitz
Los Angeles Airport, California, 1974

William Eggleston
Greenwood, Mississippi (Red Ceiling), 1973

Joel Meyerowitz
New York City, 1974

Stephen Shore
Bay Theater, Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, July 9, 1973

Stephen Shore
Lookout Hotel, Ogunquit, Maine, July 16, 1974

Joel Meyerowitz
Camel Coats, 5th Avenue, New York City, 1975

Stephen Shore
Greene County Courthouse, Greensboro, Georgia, January 28, 1976

Stephen Shore
Self-portrait, New York, New York, March 20, 1976

Stephen Shore
Miami Beach, Florida, November 13, 1977

Joel Meyerowitz
July 4th, Provincetown, 1983

Stephen Shore
West 9th Avenue, Amarillo, Texas, October 2, 1974

Stephen Shore
La Brea Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1975

Stephen Shore
Belle Glade, Florida, November 14, 1977

Joel Meyerowitz
County Fair, Hartford, Connecticut, 1971

Stephen Shore
U.S. 1, Arundel, Maine, July 17, 1974

Stephen Shore
Merced River, Yosemite, National Park, California, August 13, 1979

Joel Meyerowitz
St. Louis, 1977

Joel Meyerowitz
Empire State Series, Diner on 12th Avenue, New York City, 1978

Stephen Shore
Center Street and West Third Street, Little Rock, Arkansas, October 5, 1974

Stephen Shore
July 3, 1973

Stephen Shore
Room 236, Thunderbird Motel, Bend, Oregon, July 20, 1973

Stephen Shore
Room 12, Harbor View Motel, Kenora, Ontario, August 15, 1974

Stephen Shore
East Walnut Street, Roswell, New Mexico, September 26, 1974

Stephen Shore
Conoco Sign, Center St, Kanab, Utah, August 9, 1973

Joel Meyerowitz
Interior, Cape Cod, 1976

Joel Meyerowitz
From the Car, New York Thruway, 1975

Joel Meyerowitz
New York City, 42nd St and Fifth Ave, 1974

Joel Meyerowitz
Paris, Fallen Man, 1967

Joel Meyerowitz
New York City, 1974

Joel Meyerowitz
Dusk, New Jersey, 1978

Stephen Shore
Trail's End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, August 10, 1973

Stephen Shore
Room 11, Star Motel, Manistique, Michigan, July 8, 1973

Stephen Shore
Ginger Shore, Miami, Florida, November 12, 1977

Press Release

Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of Stephen Shore, Joel Meyerowitz, and William Eggleston, widely acknowledged as the early masters of color photography. Their pioneering use of color in the 1970s was a bold departure from the long established tradition of black and white photography, which had dominated the medium from its inception, and laid the foundations for contemporary photography today.

Although the technology to produce color prints was widely available as early as the 1940s, for many years black and white remained the only accepted medium for fine art photography. Serious photographers held color in low esteem, seeing it as the language of the family snapshot, the tourist postcard or the consumer advertisement. Intrigued and inspired to develop a new vocabulary, Shore, Meyerowitz, and Eggleston began to actively explore the medium of color photography in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Their approach to subject matter was shaped in part by their love of Robert Frank, Walker Evans, and Henri Cartier-Bresson – artists who wanted to capture the ordinary life of their immediate surroundings. But their sensitivity to color, and desire to shake free from the strong hold of nostalgia that working in black and white entailed, pointed them in new directions: Eggleston hoisted his camera aloft in Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973, to capture a crimson ceiling. The saturated hue is reminiscent of a pool of blood, as if the flayed skin of Marsyas, or that of flowing lava – a pure and intense heat enforced by the glowing bare light bulb. Conversely to these more lofty interpretations of the color red, Shore recorded the red hair and red shirt of his wife, against a red-orange brick wall in Ginger Shore, Miami, Florida, from 1977. Shore highlights the color's ordinariness: its everyday presence in prosaic situations. Shore, Eggleston, and Meyerowitz used color to explore not the exotic, but the familiar - the American vernacular of gas stations, motels, suburban backyards, diners and small towns. Through their eyes, and the use of color, the banality of the subjects is transcended into compositions of stature and significance.

Meyerowitz and Eggleston experimented with the archivally sound yet more labor intensive of printing processes, the now extinct dye transfer print method. This process lends colors a rich, saturated quality. Both Shore and Meyerowitz adopted the use of the cumbersome 8x10 view camera, whose resultant prints revealed all the details and gradations to an astonishingly acute degree. Yet within these prints, there is an intriguing contradiction: whilst being modern in composition and subject matter, the prints are also lush and beautiful because of the photographers' use of the antiquated 8x10 process.

The debate of the merits of color photography reached an apex with Eggleston's controversial 1976 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, their first in color. The show was initially panned by the critics and rejected by audiences, but ultimately color photography and Eggleston's efforts were appreciated. Pioneers of Color explores the most important and now iconic works that Shore, Meyerowitz and Eggleston created during the 1970s. Works in the show include many original exhibition prints made at the time. By examining these artists, one can discern how color photography went from being dismissed as unimportant and garish, to becoming the driving force of the medium, accepted and embraced by the most talented and innovative photographers working today.


Stephen Shore (b. 1947, New York City) had his first museum exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971, and his book Uncommon Places was first printed in 1982. Since 1982, Shore has been the director of the photography department at Bard College, New York.

Joel Meyerowitz (b. 1938, New York City) was included in The Photographer's Eye at MoMA in 1963, and began teaching photography at Cooper Union in 1971. In 1978 he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and published Cape Light. In 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, he had full access to photograph the site. The archive of these images was published by Phaidon, entitled Aftermath.

William Eggleston (b.1939, Memphis) had recently an extensive survey of his work at the Whitney Museum, Democratic Camera: Photographs and Video, 1961-2008; the exhibition will be touring to Art Institute of Chicago this spring.