Joel Meyerowitz - Photo of the artist - Image via pinterest view photographs

Joel Meyerowitz

United States 1938


Joel Meyerowitz
Joel Meyerowitz
United States
February 7, 2017
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Often cited as one of the earliest successful advocates of color photography, Joel Meyerowitz is an American artist whose work is primarily composed of large-format street photos. Meyerowitz made a name for himself by capturing fleeting and candid moments of American life, culture and political unrest, using his trusted camera to make documentative pieces that truly reflect some of the aspects of modern societies that are hidden in plain sight. Inspired by street photography legends such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugène Atget and Robert Frank, Joel dedicated decades of his life to developing his own style and technique, resulting in some of the greatest images his chosen medium has in its arsenal. Much due to the creative efforts of this American author, street photography is now widely accepted as a valid form of what society describes as high art. Meyerowitz’s slow and meditative process is a consequence of countless hours spent practicing, a commitment that equipped him with a keen eye for the changing light and subtleties of the surroundings.

The 1976 photographs on view in the Provincetown exhibition use news and press as tools
Joel Meyerowitz – Anawanda Lake, New York, 1970

Chasing the Dream

Meyerowitz’s career as a photographer began in the year of 1962 when young Joel saw the work of the aforementioned Robert Frank[1]. Inspired by what he saw, the aspiring artist quit his job as an art director at an advertising agency in order to pursue a new dream of becoming a professional photographer. Meyerowitz got himself a 35 mm camera and black-and-white film, immediately merging himself with the streets of New York City. This was a time that many describe as the golden age of New York photography as Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus were all photographing there at the same time. Although Joel initially worked with black and white images just as all of his contemporaries, he permanently adopted color in the year of 1972 and was one of the first artists to do so. Around that same time, he also switched to a large format, often using an 8×10 camera[2]. Tirelessly working on all aspects of his work, it did not take long for Joel to prove himself worthy to be among the world’s most prominent and respected documentarians. His first book titled as Cape Light came out in the year of 1978 and is now respected as a beloved classic of color photography.

Among many other noteworthy milestones he provided the medium of photography with, Joel Meyerowitz was one of the first artists to permanently introduce color to his work

The years of exhibitions view the history, press and news of every gallery
Joel Meyerowitz – Taken in Paris, France, 1967

Books, Projects and Recognitions

Interestingly, it is quite reliably possible to follow the developing style of Meyerowitz by chronologically reading his books, starting with the aforementioned experience of Cape Light. In a book titled Wild Flowers (1983), Joel demonstrated a comic appreciation for the blending of nature and artifice on ordinary city streets. The 1991’s Redheads shows us just how fascinated the photographer was with portraits at that time whilst the 2003’s Tuscany: Inside the Light shows us the artist’s relationship with landscapes. More recently, Meyerowitz has spent almost three years taking images of wild areas in New York City’s parks, yet again proving his love towards the city that served him so well as a subject for the majority of his life. Pictorial selections from this project were exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York in 2009-10 and have all been published in a book called Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks (2009). In the year of 1998, Meyerowitz produced and directed his first film titled simply as Pop. This movie is an intimate diary of a three-week road trip made with his son, Sasha, and his aging father, Hy. Since then, Joel was no stranger to video as he appeared extensively in the 2006 BBC Four documentary series The Genius of Photography, the 2013 documentary film Finding Vivian Maier and the Ralph Goertz’s Sense of Time (2014). It should be noted that Meyerowitz was the only photographer to be given unimpeded access to Ground Zero in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. These frightening images are now considered to be the foundation of a major national archive and have traveled to more than 200 cities in 60 countries. On the 18th of January in 2017, Joel was honored for his lifelong work with a place at the Leica Hall of Fame.

After dedicating the majority of his career to street photography, Joel Meyerowitz is now counted among the world’s most prominent and respected documentarians

In 1976, Provincetown museum made a photographs exhibition including the use of color works
Joel Meyerowitz – Taken in Paris, France, 1967

What Joel Meyerowitz Did for Street Photography

Ultimately, Joel Meyerowitz massively contributed to the reputation of street photographers, as well as defining how one such artist should work in modern times. He frequently talked about what he saw as the role of a street photographer in the 20th century, often providing us with statements that offer a deep insight into what this kind of art truly is, like this particular quote: The thought for us [street photographers] was always: ‘How much could we absorb and embrace of a moment of existence that would disappear in an instant?’ And, ‘Could we really make it live as art?” There was an almost moral dimension.[3] Joel dedicated his career to street photography and effectively carved his name into the history of the genre, making sure that the high art definition now goes hand in hand with street photos[4]. And as for us, the audience of the world, Meyerowitz made sure we are well stocked with his pictures that offer genuine reflections of events, societies and surprising stories that would all be forgotten if Joel did not forever capture them within his camera’s lens.

Joel Meyerowitz lives and works in New York City, The United States.


  1. Meyerowitz, J., Joel Meyerowitz (55s), Phaidon Press; Revised edition, 2014
  2. Meyerowitz, J., Joel Meyerowitz: Seeing Things, Aperture, 2016
  3. Tagliaventi, A., Meyerowitz, J., Conversation with Joel Meyerowitz, Contrasto; First Edition, 2017
  4. Sasse, J., Meyerowitz, J., Goertz, R., Joel Meyerowitz: Retrospective, D.A.P./Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2015

Featured image: Joel Meyerowitz – Photo of the artist – Image via
All images © Joel Meyerowitz, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2016Joel Meyerowitz - SurveyStephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto, ONSolo
2015Parallel Modes: Illustrated Visual Journalism and American Photography, 1955–1980Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOGroup
2014Joel Meyerowitz - Immersion - La PiscineMusée d'Art et d'Industrie, RoubaixSolo
2014Joel Meyerowitz – RetrospektiveNRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft, DusseldorfSolo
2014Joel Meyerowitz: PhotographsGalerie Springer Berlin, BerlinSolo
2014Joel Meyerowitz - The Effect of FranceHoward Greenberg Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2014Modern Times. Photography in the 20th CenturyRijksmuseum, AmsterdamGroup
2014Augen Auf! 100 Jahre Leica FotografieDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2014Second Sight: The David Kronn Photography CollectionIrish Museum of Modern Art - IMMA,DublinGroup
2014Only The Good Ones: The Snapshot Aesthetic RevisitedGalerie Rudolfinum, PragueGroup
2014Dark Blue - The Water as ProtagonistHaggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WIGroup
2013Joel Meyerowitz - Une RétrospectiveMaison Européenne de la Photographie, ParisSolo
2013Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City's Forgotten WaterfrontDr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Eye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s PhotographySmith College Museum of Art,Northampton, MAGroup
2013SeescapeGeorge Adams Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013L'eau et les rêvesAbbaye de Jumièges, JumiègesGroup
2012Joel Meyerowitz - 50 Years of Photographs Part II: 1976 - 2012Howard Greenberg Gallery,New York City, NYSolo
2012Joel Meyerowitz - 50 Years of Photographs Part I: 1962 - 1977Howard Greenberg Gallery,New York City, NYSolo
2012Sinister PopWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
2012Summer Collection DNJ Gallery, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012Beyond Words: Photography in The New YorkerUCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art,BeijingGroup
2012Photodocument: 20th-century American Photography And Found TextMead Art Museum,Amherst, MAGroup
2012Visions of France: Three Postwar PhotographersVirginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VAGroup
2011Joel Meyerowitz - AftermathEdwynn Houk Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2011Joel Meyerowitz - AftermathMAM - Miami Art Museum, Miami, FLSolo
2011Collector XGallery Baton, SeoulGroup
2011In Focus: The SkyJ. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2011ASPECTS OF COLOR. A History of Color in Photography from Pictorialism to ContemporaryKicken Berlin, BerlinGroup
2011Hyper Real – Kunst und Amerika um 1970Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, AachenGroup
2011Framed: Street Photography from the CollectionThe Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DCGroup
2011ProcessEdwynn Houk Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010Street Photography NowCONTRIBUTED Studio for the Arts, BerlinGroup
2010Hyper RealMuseum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig - MUMOK , ViennaGroup
2010American Pioneers of ColorGalerie zur Stockeregg, ZurichGroup
2010American Pioneers of ColorEdwynn Houk Gallery, ZurichGroup
2010Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980Princeton University Art Museum,Princeton, NJGroup
2010Land Use SurveyGallery Jen Bekman, New York City, NYGroup
2010Pioneers of ColorEdwynn Houk Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970 – 1980Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OHGroup
2009Poétique du chantierMusée-Château d'Annecy, AnnecyGroup
2009Sexy and the City - New York PhotographsYossi Milo Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2009Summertime…Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2009Pioneering Colour Photography meets ContemporaryGalerie zur Stockeregg, ZurichGroup
2008Joel MeyerowitzRobert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2008SummerGallery Kong, SeoulSolo
2008Joel Meyerowitz: Bay Sky PorchPalmer Museum of Art, University Park, PASolo
2008Joel MeyerowitzEdwynn Houk Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2008The Elements: Air Water, Part 1Gallery White Room, TokyoSolo
2008Joel MeyerowitzMuseé de la photographie de Charleroi, CharleroiSolo
2008Maloney, meyerowitz, shore, sternfeldDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2008When color was new vintage photographs from around the 1970sJulie Saul Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2007Joel MeyerowitzJackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GASolo
2007Joel Meyerowitz: Video and PhotographyGalerie Thomas Zander, CologneSolo
2007Joel Meyerowitz - Out of the Ordinary 1970 – 1980 Netherlands Fotomuseum, RotterdamSolo
2007Joel Meyerowitz – Ground ZeroLiptovská galéria Petra Michala Bohúňa, Liptovsky MikulasSolo
2007Joel Meyerowitz - out of the ordinary (1970-80) & aftermath (2001-02)Museum der Moderne,SalzburgSolo
2007Ingenium.Photographie et Ingeniosite 1846 - 2006 - BOZARPalais des Beaux-Arts, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, BrusselsGroup
2007Bella Italia33 Bond Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2007KunstkammerBerkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive BAM, PFA, Berkeley, CAGroup
2006Joel Meyerowitz - Out of the Ordinary1970-1980 - Jeu de Paume, ParisSolo
2006Joel MeyerowitzEdwynn Houk Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2006AFTERMATH - Images from Ground Zero, Photography by Joel MeyerowitzPolk Museum of Art, Lakeland, FLSolo
2006Porträt der Straße - Fotografien aus drei JahrhundertenKunsthaus Kaufbeuren, KaufbeurenGroup
2006Where We Live: Photographs of America from the Berman CollectionJ. Paul Getty Museum,Los Angeles, CAGroup
2006Photographs by the Score: Personal Visions Twenty-Some Years ApartThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2006The Beach - 2006Zabriskie Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2005Changing TimeLe Case d'Arte, MilanSolo
2005Mavericks of Color: Photographs from the CollectionPhiladelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PAGroup
2005EpilogueJackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GAGroup
2005Amerikanische Street PhotographyStädtische Galerie Wolfsburg, WolfsburgGroup
2005Surfing the Century: Twentieth-Century ArtUMMA - The University of Michigan Museum of Art,Ann Arbor, MIGroup
2005Garry Winogrand and the american street photographers Foam Fotografiemuseum,AmsterdamGroup
2004Joel Meyerowitz - Early WorkGalerie Thomas Zander, CologneSolo
2004Joel Meyerowitz: TuscanyCatherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2004Ground Zero - Dom FotografieHouse of Photography, Liptovsky MikulasSolo
2004The Pain of WarMead Art Museum, Amherst, MAGroup
2004Six From The Seventies - The Last Years Of Modern PhotographyHoward Greenberg Gallery,New York City, NYGroup
2004Killer Shots: A Photographic Response To WarSF Camerawork, San Francisco, CAGroup
2003Aftermath - Images from Ground ZeroUniversity Museum of Contemporary Art - UMass Amherst, Amherst, MASolo
2003Common Ground: Photographers on the StreetTufts University Art Gallery, Medford, MAGroup
2003Killer Shots: A Photographic Response to WarCatherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, ILGroup
2003Featured ShowDNA Gallery, Provincetown, MAGroup
2003FlashJackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GAGroup
2003By the SeaYossi Milo Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2002After September 11: Images from Ground Zero - Photography by Joel MeyerowitzMuseum Kampa - The Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation, PragueSolo
2002After September 11 - Images from Groun ZeroPalazzo Ducale, GenoaSolo
2002New York Observed: The Mythology of the CityUMMA - The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MIGroup
2002Featured ShowDNA Gallery, Provincetown, MAGroup
2001Joel Meyerowitz: At the Water's EdgeCatherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, ILSolo
2001Amerikanische Fotografie ca. 1970 Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich Group
2001Overnight to Many Cities: Tourism and Travel at Home and Away303 Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2001Revisited: Aspekte amerikanischer FarbphotographieKicken Berlin, BerlinGroup
1998Ficciones íntimasFundación Joan Miró, BarcelonaGroup
1997Private View. Collection Allan Porter Museum im Bellpark, KriensGroup
1994Joel Meyerowitz on the Street: The First DecadeThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
1990The Indomitable Spirit: Photographers And Artists Respond In The Time Of AidsICP - International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1987American DreamsMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, MadridGroup
1986Joel Meyerowitz: A Summer's DiaryMMoCA - The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WISolo
1985A Summer's Day: Photographs by Joel MeyerowitzBrooklyn Museum of Art, New York City, NYSolo
1983PhototypesWhitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NYGroup
1981The New Color: A Decade of Color PhotographyICP - International Center of Photography,New York City, NYGroup
1981Whitney Biennial 1981Whitney Biennial, New York City, NYGroup
1980Joel Meyerowitz: St. Louis and the ArchSaint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, MOSolo
1980American Images: New Work by Twenty Contemporary PhotographersICP - International Center of Photography, New York City, NYGroup
1979Cape Light: Color Photographs By Joel MeyerowitzUAMA - The University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZSolo
1978Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
1968My European Trip: Photographs from the Car by Joel MeyerowitzMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYSolo
1964The Photographer's EyeMoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup