Joel Meyerowitz is an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Born in New York in 1938, he began photographing in 1962, becoming a “street photographer” in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank. However, Meyerowitz works exclusively in colour.
As an early (mid-60s) advocate of colour photography, Meyerowitz was instrumental in transforming a general resistance to colour film into an almost universal acceptance. His first book, Cape Light, is considered a classic of colour photography and has sold more than 100,000 copies over its 25-year life. He has also produced 14 other books, including Bystander: The History of Street Photography, and Tuscany: Inside the Light.
In 1998 he produced and directed his first film, POP – an intimate diary of a three-week road trip Meyerowitz made with his son, Sasha, and father, Hy. The central character of this odyssey is an unpredictable, street-wise, witty 87 year-old with a failing memory. POP is both a clear-eyed look at aging and a meditation on the significance of memory.
Within a few days of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Meyerowitz began to create an archive of the destruction and recovery in and around Ground Zero. The World Trade Center Archive now includes over 8,000 images, and will be available for research, exhibition, and publication at museums in New York and Washington, DC.
The only photographer to be granted unimpeded access to Ground Zero after September 13, 2001, Meyerowitz takes a meditative stance toward the work and workers there, systematically documenting the painful work of rescue, recovery, demolition and excavation.
The US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs asked the Museum of the City of New York and Meyerowitz to create a special exhibition of images from the archive, to send around the world.
The 28 images that make up “After September 11: Images from Ground Zero”, presented in a 30 inch x 40 inch format, relate the catastrophic destruction of the attacks to the physical, human dimensions of the recovery effort. Each is its own, succinct reminder of the magnitude of destruction and loss brought by the attacks, and the heroic nature of the response. Together, they serve as a stunning reminder of that extraordinary day, and the days that followed.
Between 2001 and 2004, the exhibition traveled to more than 200 cities in 60 countries, and was seen by over three and a half million people.
In addition to the travelling shows, Meyerowitz was invited to represent the United States at the 8th Venice Biennale for Architecture, along with images from the archive. In September 2002, he exhibited 73 images – some as large as 22 feet wide – in lower Manhattan.
The Venice show is now touring the US, and in September 2006 Phaidon Press published 450 of Meyerowitz’s World Trade Center Archive photographs in a monumental book: “Aftermath.”
Meyerowitz is a Guggenheim fellow and a recipient of both the NEA and NEH awards. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many others.