Joel Meyerowitz: Transitions, 1962-1981
Curator Francesco Zanot
With its selection of over 120 photographs, the exhibition presents and explores the initial period of Joel Meyerowitz’s career, from his street photography of the early 1960s, to the monumental landscapes of the Atlantic coast shot in every detail with a large-format camera.
One of the most important post-war American photographers, Meyerowitz (New York, b. 1938) started his career with a revolutionary gesture. It is 1962: as he shoots the fast-paced human comedy on the streets of New York, he does it on color film. Unlike his predecessors, Meyerowitz’s photography is born in color as he takes his first steps with this material. The dynamics of urban gestures and their vivid colors are his first subjects. It is with these images that the exhibition opens, developing over a total of six sections that take us through the first twenty years of the intense activity of the American photographer, identifying its milestones.
The first chapter revolves around New York and the United States: here Meyerowitz is on the hunt after the adrenaline of the unique shot, interpreting the purest spirit of street-photography.
Then comes a long journey in Europe, between 1966 and 1967, to which the second section is dedicated. England, France, Spain, Italy are some of the nations he crosses, simultaneously investigating the behavior of the locals and his reaction to all that.
The third section explores another turning point. In the early seventies, Meyerowitz decreases the presence of action in his photographs and focuses on color. Like an abstract painter (color field painting), his subjects become simple holders of the most disparate colors. It is a period of studies and experiments, followed by a meaningful transition to larger photographic formats, as documented in the fourth section of the exhibition.
Cape Cod is the protagonist of the fifth and sixth sections. A thin strip of land that ventures into the Atlantic Ocean, it acts as stage for a series of landscapes and portraits shot starting in 1976. What conquers Meyerowitz is above all the clear and crystalline light, which had already seduced great artists before him like Mark Rothko, Milton Avery and Edward Hopper, who captured it on the surface of their canvases.