GalerieExhibitionsM E Y E R O W I T Z – A Retrospective

M E Y E R O W I T Z – A Retrospective

In cooperation with Howard Greenberg Gallery (NYC) and on the occasion of the photographer’s 85th birthday, Werkstattgalerie Hermann Noack presents a major Joel Meyerowitz retrospective entitled M E Y E R O W I T Z.

In his diverse and influential oeuvre, which spans more than six decades, Meyerowitz has explored the philosophical complexity of photography and its poetic potential in a variety of ways. The exhibition features a selection of over hundred works drawn from various phases of his extensive oeuvre.

It is our invisibility that helps us get away with stealing fire from the gods is how Meyerowitz describes a way of working practiced by him and others, in which he blends unobtrusively into his surroundings in order to capture everyday scenes photographically. Through patient observation and special alertness, it is important to wait for an experience of heightened perception, in which a moment seems to expand and unregulated time reveals itself in a deeper order. This is the right moment to press the shutter release

The allusion to the presumption of the ancient mythical figure Prometeus to steal fire from the gods in order to give it to mankind is apt. It is the feeling of stillness that Meyerowitz evokes in his photographs that enables an empathetic and at the same time analytically distanced perspective on visible reality and the conditions of our perception. An atmospherically closely related reflection of human experience and its connection to the mystery of time can be found in the paintings of Edward Hopper, with whom he also shares an astonishing sense of spatial depth and light. With this aesthetic of opening up further levels of meaning in the everyday visible, Meyerowitz ties in with the program of American Realism, to which Hopper is also assigned.

When Joel Meyerowitz began taking photographs in the 1960s, photography was still little established as an artistic medium. He became a protagonist of street photography, always out and about on the streets of New York. Patience, instinct and empathy for the moment became his artistic strategy.

People between the skyscrapers of Fifth Avenue, a woman at the bar, a child in the crowd - the resulting photos appear neither planned nor staged and yet reveal an inherent pictorial logic. Things and people appear melodically related to each other in the composition of the images. Stylistically, he set himself apart early on from role models such as Frank Stella and Henri Cartier-Bresson. His artistic independence was recognized as early as 1968 with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

At a time when only black and white photography was considered a serious medium for art and journalism, he photographed in color from the very beginning. After a stay in Europe, he also began experimenting with black and white photography, but eventually turned entirely to color photography.

In the mid-seventies, he switched from the 35mm 35mm camera to the 8x10 plate camera in order to achieve greater sharpness of detail on larger formats. A new calm returned to his work, an artistic development in which he also turned his attention to the landscape. His photographic gaze became exploratory, almost dissecting, he applied himself with technical skill and meditative patience to make even the smallest nuances of light and color visible. The resulting photographs are of immense color intensity and make him a pioneer of color photography as a serious form of artistic expression. His Cape Light series, in which he explores achromatic variations of light on Cape Cod, is considered iconic. The catalog of the same name, published in 1979, is a classic in the history of photography.

Despite the enormous range of his work, which includes street photography, landscapes, portraits, documentary photography and still lifes, Joel Meyerowitz's very own 'way of seeing' is always present in his pictures and opens up a deeper penetration into visible reality. He has thus made a significant contribution to the establishment of color photography as an art form and has shaped our understanding of modern photography like no other.

TO THE ARTIST: Joel Meyerowitz