Joel Meyerowitz: At the Water's Edge October 12 — November 10, 2001

In the early 1960s, Joel Meyerowitz found himself walking away from an art directing job in the corporate world to pursue photography. His desire and need to be on the street rather than looking at it from an office building window was overwhelming. Like many photographers in New York City, Meyerowitz took to the street with a 35 mm camera, searching for inspiration in the people, gestures, interactions and incongruities that occurred everyday.

A chance encounter with Robert Frank, while still an art director, had a profound effect on Meyerowitz, as he witnessed the intricacies and nuances involved in picture making. The blending of the emotional and physical selves was a new concept,as he watched Frank seamlessly weave himself in and out of situations. This encounter would be relived time and again as Meyerowitz, along with fellow photographer and colleague Garry Winogrand, took to the streets to explore photography's possibilities.

A year long trip to Europe in the mid 1960s sparked a turning point for Meyerowitz as he began to find his own voice, working equally in color and black and white. The use of color began to have a tremendous impact on his work, as he craved its inherent descriptive qualities. Frustrated with the graininess of a 35 mm negative, Meyerowitz settled on an 8 x 10" Deardorff [which he continues using today] which he brought with him on his family vacation to Cape Cod in the summer of 1976.

Cape Cod, a place where families congregated and the pace of life slowed considerably, offered a vast, flat seascape filled with dunes, piercing sunlight, surfless vistas and unimaginable beauty. It was here that Meyerowitz made his most significant contribution to the history of photography, creating breathtaking images of light, magnifying its beauty and simplicity. Meyerowitz was captivated by Cape Cod, returning summer after summer to photograph places which had become so familiar yet revealed new possibilities.

Cape Light and Bay/Sky document some of his most renown works which explore the changing color of light. In numerous images we see the sky and sea merge, the only hint of separation being a sailboats mast catching the suns glare. In others we see silhouettes of children and families dotting the seascape, reminding us of the power of the ocean and how we fit within the vast landscape. Time and again Meyerowitz seduces us with beauty, revealing infinite colors we so often take for granted.


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