American photographer Joel Meyerowitz is enjoying exhibitions on both sides of the Atlantic, with both Huxley-Parlour and the Tate Modern showcasing displays exploring his one-of-a-kind approach to light and colour.
Titled Joel Meyerowitz: Dialogues, the Huxley-Parlour exhibition opens on 18 January and runs through until March. Representing Joel’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, Dialogues is fittingly named as it coincides with another important display of the photographer’s work at London’s Tate Modern.
The theme of pairing runs even more profound, as the work presented in Dialogues is displayed in couples to reveal the unexpected parallels that emerge in Joel’s imagery. And by doing so, the photographer’s enduring fascination with colour and the experimental ways he uses it comes to the surface.
According to Joel, the pairs of photographs on display are “relational” images, each linked by light, colour and composition. Both exhibitions use pairing to investigate the colour in Joel’s pictures and his characteristic use of “complex compositional structure and unresolved, non-hierarchical imagery.”
As for the subjects in Joel’s work, the photographer tends to lean on distinctly American aesthetics, such as the stars and stripes, while blending them with meditative palettes. The photographs on display span from 1964 to 2011 and include lesser-known images from his extensive archive alongside his best-known pieces, such as his early street work and images from his seminal series, Cape Light.
“Meyerowitz is widely acknowledged to be one of the first photographers – amongst others such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore – to bring colour photography from the periphery to the centre of fine art photography,” says Huxley-Parlour.
In a modern world where everything can be recorded and reviewed with a couple of smartphone screen taps, Joel’s revolutionary approach to colour can almost be easy to underestimate. “Historically, where black and white photography was understood to be a serious medium, colour was widely considered to be technically inferior and aesthetically limiting – occupying the realm of advertising campaigns, television, and personal holiday photographs,” adds the gallery.
“In defiance of this, Meyerowitz’s work demonstrated how the medium allowed nuanced contemplation of form, composition, and mood.”
Meanwhile, at the ongoing display at Tate Modern, London, visitors will see Joel’s progression from colour to black and white in the 1960s, when he first began to embrace the limitations and aesthetics introduced by colour film. Featured works include A Question of Color, in which Joel carried around two cameras and shot nearly the same scene both in colour and black and white.