Tag Archives: Guggenheim Fellowship

Taking His Time: A Look Back at 50 Years of Joel Meyerowitz’s Photographs

The 1939 edition of Robert Frost’s Collected Poems contained an introductory essay that wasn’t in the first edition. In that article, entitled “The Figure a Poem Makes,” Frost wrote, “Like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere.”

Though he didn’t know it at the time, acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz began hurling his own experiences ahead of him in 1962. While working as an art director at an advertising agency, Meyerowitz met photographer Robert Frank who was shooting a clothing brochure. Meyerowitz watched Frank move while he photographed, and he had an incredible epiphany. On the way back to the office, Meyerowitz walked the streets of New York for more than an hour. “I felt like I was reading the text of the street in a way that I never had before,” he says.

When he returned to the office, Meyerowitz told his boss, Harry Gordon, that he was quitting. He wanted to be a photographer. Gordon then asked him a crucial question: did he have a camera? The answer was no, so Gordon lent him a 35mm camera and Meyerowitz embarked on the great journey of his life.

Over the next 50 years Meyerowitz exhibited at the MoMA, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, published books and taught photography at Cooper Union. But there was always one place where you had a chance to run into him and become immortalized in his gargantuan body of work. Meyerowitz is, first and foremost, a street photographer. Though he has shot street scenes in France, Germany, Atlanta, Ohio and dozens of places in between, the chaotic streets of New York City make up his favorite studio. “Fifth Avenue is my boulevard,” he says. “No street in the world, and I’ve traveled a lot, has for me the kind of sexy, improvisatory collisions between elegance and lowness. You can see bike messengers and models, billionaires and hustlers, and it’s all out there every day.”

That first day with Robert Frank served as more than just a catalytic inspiration; it laid the foundation for how Meyerowitz would record street life. He bobs and weaves through the throngs of people, searching for that serendipitous moment that becomes a great photograph. “The way someone makes a gesture on the street or the way couples react to each other or the simultaneity of two things happening at the same time and the relationship between them,” are some of the elements he looks for. “It was the wonder of human nature and this incredible capacity for things to keep showing themselves to me,” he says.

Image: Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaidon Press, November 2012)

Phaidon Press

Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaidon Press. Limited Edition including signed print, November 2012)

When he is shooting on the street, there isn’t much time to contemplate each moment. “Photography takes place in a fraction of a second,” Meyerowitz says. “There isn’t a lot of time to think about things. You have to hone your instinct. You learn to hone that skill and timing so you’re in the right place at the right time.” Although he has made images that have moved audiences for decades, that has never been his true motivation. “I’m not out there to make another ‘great picture,’” he says. “I’m really out there to feel what it feels like to be alive and conscious in that moment. In a sense, the record of my photographs is a record of moments of consciousness and awareness that have come to me in my life.”

This year, the 50th anniversary of when he first took up the camera, Meyerowitz compiled hundreds of his favorite images for the two-volume collection, Joel Meyerowitz: Taking My Time (Phaidon Press). The project isn’t just a greatest hits collection. “It’s easy to make a book of your very best things and not necessarily have a narrative arc,” he says. “I wanted to stick strictly to the chronology as precisely as I could and show my own development.” The result is a visual biography of an artist who for half a century has snapped moments–fractions of seconds–and preserved them forever. Each tells a unique story that Meyerowitz has used to pave his life. Through the images of people and places and tiny moments in time, one can see a remarkable line of purpose he has created, one that runs fluidly across the experience of his life.

Joel Meyerowitz is a New York City-based photographer. Beginning Nov. 2, his work will be displayed in a two-part solo show at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York.

LightBox previously featured Meyerowitz’s photographs of the destruction and reconstruction at Ground Zero.

The Americans List: A Salute to Robert Frank

Photographers the world over need no introduction to Robert Frank’s seminal 1950s work The Americans, an exploration of the American ideal from his outsider’s perspective as a Swiss émigré. Taken on a series of road trips around the country, the resulting intuitively-sequenced images —produced with funding from a Guggenheim fellowship—reflect both the dark undercurrents and poetic beauty of American culture.

Originally published in Paris in 1958 and the U.S. a year later, the book’s hallowed pages—containing a mere 83 images—have become one of the most referenced and revered photographic works. Many of the individual frames reside firmly in the collective memory of contemporary photographers who consciously and subconsciously reference the images on a daily basis.

Three years ago, an extensive retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art provided a fascinating and exhaustive insight to The Americans. The show, entitled Looking In, also inspired and facilitated photographer Jason Eskenazi’s recently published appreciation, The Americans List.

In 2009, Eskenazi—himself the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship—was working as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Every day for two months, even on Mondays when the exhibition was closed to the public, he stood in close proximity with the work, studying it compulsively, attending special events and asking questions of MET curator Jeff Rosenheim.

While guarding the show, Eskenazi started to ask photographers he knew—famous or not—about their favorite images from the show. Over the next two years, Eskenazi compiled their answers, along with their explanations and thoughts about the work. His compilations eventually evolved into his own book, published this month by Red Hook Editions. In the foreward, Eskenazi writes:

The Americans is probably the one book that connects more photographers than any other, so while guarding the show, I saw many photography colleagues enter. I began asking them what was their knock-out favorite image. Though many said it was too hard to choose and many images were important to them I insisted. I discovered that many of the answers revealed much more about the photographers themselves.”

The Americans List assembles selections by 276 photographers from Joel Meyerowitz (Canal Street – New Orleans. plate #19) and Joseph Koudelka (Covered car – Long Beach, Califonia. plate #34) to Eskenazi’s own personal favorite (Men’s room, railway station – Memphis, Tenn. Plate 52). Eskenazi considers the book a present to the photographic community and a homage to a great living photographer.

Guarding the exhibition also afforded Eskenazi the opportunity to meet the legendary photographer, first at the exhibition opening and then at Frank’s house in New York City, where he asked Frank to confirm the long standing rumor of his own favorite photograph from The Americans (San Francisco. Plate 72).

Eskenazi quit his day job at the end of the Looking In exhibition and has since returned full time to his life as a photographer. “I became very intimate with the work,” Eskenazi says. “It brought me back to life. And Frank was very moved by the book when he was recently given a copy in Nova Scotia.”

Clark Winter

Nova Scotia
September, 2012

Jason Eskenazi is a Istanbul based photographer. See more of his work at JasonEskenazi.com.

The Americans List is published by Red Hook Editions and available through the photo-eye bookstore.

Review Santa Fe: Carolyn Drake

Over the next month, I will be sharing the work of photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  

Carolyn Drake ‘s project, Uyghur, documents Xinjiang, China in a variety of ways–by photographing objects as a way of visually journaling her thoughts and feelings, collaborating with the people she encountered in the province and asking them to reinterpret her photographs through drawing and text, and by showing us what was and what is.  This three tiered way of capturing place gives us a rich tapestry of a province in transition.

“When I was young, people were poor.  Now they are getting richer from jade and from the government  A lot of people are looking for jade on the Black Jade River and the White Jade River, looking for luck.  If they can’t find a good piece of jade, they can sell it for a lot of money.  The Chinese people love it.  Digging is a hard job.  It’s like gambling.  If you have luck you can find it, if you have no luck, you just dig.”

Carolyn received her BA in Media/Culture and American History from Brown University, and later studied photography at ICP and Ohio University. She now splits her time between self-driven documentary projects and the magazine editorial work from which she makes a living. Carolyn is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright fellowship, and the Lange Taylor Documentary Prize, among other awards, and is currently putting together her first book, Two Rivers. She is based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Uyghur:Xinjiang – China’s vast far western province – has changed drastically since I began photographing Uyghurs there in 2007. Traditionally living in agricultural villages and trading towns on the edges of the Taklimakan Desert, many Uyghurs have been forced off of their land and out of their courtyard homes into urban housing projects. They are displaced by millions of Han workers migrating west from the Chinese interior as government policy tightens its grip on this province which borders several newly independent, Islamic leaning countries.  

While Uyghurs continue to aspire to cultural and political autonomy, their language and way of life are transforming. Ive been drawn back over and over. The attraction comes partly from a sense that these changes ought to be viewed from more perspectives, especially ones that consider Uyghur interests. Its also a personal attraction to the desert landscape, communal culture, vivid streetlife, and hospitality I saw there. 

Feeling the limits of what could be expressed with my camera, I eventually began to look for meaning other ways. I learned about the significance of dreams in Islam and asked people to describe their own remembered dreams. I collected and photographed objects left in the dust of demolition. I carried a journal which I asked people to leave messages in.

And I made prints of my photos, asking people to draw their own pictures on top of them, and recording interviews with those who were willing to take the risk. The project has become a narrative collage of these disparate elements.

“This is a picture of my son.  Its the street I was born on. It is a beautiful street. My son drew his dream.  A person running after a thief.  My wife wanted to draw but she thinks she didn’t draw it well.”

“Twenty years ago it was very nice, there were a lot of springs, clean water, grasses, and a lot of trees.  I was always going swimming.  It was a very beautiful place.  But now it’s all buildings, and not much green.  There are so many people living here now, it’s like flies.”
” All of my brothers and sisters and my mother were at the village killing a camel together for the Kurban festival.  I was the butcher, taking off the meat. I work as a tour guide.  I miss home when I go to the other provinces.  Because I’m a Muslim.  Not a really good Muslim, but I’m a Muslim and I believe one day I will become a really good Muslim.  In other provinces you can’t find good Muslim good and people are strangers, they are speaking a different language and you can’t understand them.  I can understand Chinese, but it’s kind of tiring.  I get homesick very easily.”
“A man who regards himself as a Muslim should learn to ride a hourse, to shoot an arrow, and learn to swim.”
“I didn’t study at school because I love my mother. Life wasn’t good for her because my father left. We had six children in my family and I am the youngest so I had a lot of pressure on me.  I got some money every day and gave the money to her.  Then she spent the money for my brothers and sisters to study at school. The whole time, I was a shoe brusher in front of the mosque.  In front of the mosque, one small chair.  If anyone came, I’d brush their shoes.  Then I’d give the money to my mom.”

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.


Elinor Carucci in Feast Your Eyes

Feast Your Eyes

Exhibition on view:
January 6–January 27, 2012

powerHouse Arena:
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 666-3049


The New York Photo Festival presents Feast Your Eyes: A Holiday Photo Invitational. Fascinated by America’s ever-growing food culture, The New York Photo Festival held an open competition, challenging photographers to submit their best photographs of food. The jurors selected over 30 winners to be in the exhibition including the Aperture-published Elinor Carucci. Winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Carucci currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts. She was featured in Aperture magazine issue 182.

Charles Lindsay at CPW

footage from the installation CARBON. © Charles Lindsay


Exhibition on view:
November 2, 2011–January 29, 2012

The Center for Photography at Woodstock
59 Tinker Street
Woodstock, NY
(845) 679-9957


The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CWP) presents CARBON, a site specific exhibition by the artist Charles Lindsay. Fascinated by space exploration and abstract art, Lindsay created “camera-less photographs” by experimenting with and distorting negatives and carbon based emulsions. The result is an interactive, multi-media installation that fuses sculptures (made with recycled bio-tech equipment), images, videos, and audio recordings. In conjunction with CARBON, the CPW will host the multi-media concert Trout Fishing in Space. The one-night only event will be held on Saturday, December 10 at 7:00 pm and will feature the audio and visual art of five different performers, including Lindsay.

Charles Lindsay is a photographer and musician with a degree in geology. His work explores our modern interactions with the earth. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his CARBON project. Aperture offers Lindsay’s limited-edition print Brown Trout, California.

Bruce Davidson’s Subway Exhibition

© Magnum/Bruce Davidson

In 1986, Aperture first published Bruce Davidson‘s Subway—a ground-breaking series that has garnered critical acclaim both as a document of a unique moment in the cultural fabric of New York City as well as for its phenomenal use of extremes of color and shadow set against flash-lit skin. In Davidson’s own words, “the people in the subway, their flesh juxtaposed against the graffiti, the penetrating effect of the strobe light itself, and even the hollow darkness of the tunnels, inspired an aesthetic that goes unnoticed by passengers who are trapped underground, hiding behind masks, and closed off from each other.”

Accompanying the third edition of this classic of photographic literature, Aperture Gallery will present Subway, an exhibition of the iconic color images that move the viewer through a landscape at times menacing, at other times lyrical, soulful, and satiric. The images include the full panoply of New Yorkers—from weary straphangers and languorous ladies in summer dresses to stalking predators and the homeless.

There will also be a Talk and Book Signing event at Strand Books on Monday, September 26, 2011. Buying a copy of the new edition of Subway, or a $10 Strand gift card will get you into the event. Although tickets are sold out online, more tickets will be sold at the door the night of the signing.

Bruce Davidson (born in Oak Park, Illinois, 1933) is considered one of America’s most influential documentary photographers. He began taking photographs when he was ten, and studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Yale University School of Design. In 1958 he became a member of Magnum Photos, and in 1962, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to document the civil rights movement. After a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1963, followed by a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1967, Davidson spent two years photographing in East Harlem, resulting in East 100th Street. In 1980, after living in New York City for twenty-three years, Davidson began his startling color essay of urban life in Subway. Davidson received a second National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1980, and an Open Society Institute Individual Fellowship in 1998. His work has been shown at the International Center of Photography, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum de Tokyo, Paris; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Museum Rattu, Arles, France; Burden Gallery (Aperture), New York; Parco Gallery, Tokyo; and New-York Historical Society.

Exhibition on view:
Tuesday, October 4, 2011–Saturday, October 29, 2011

Opening reception:
Thursday, October 13, 2011, 6:00 pm

Artist Talk:
Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 6:30 pm

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street, 4th floor
New York, New York
(212) 505-5555

Sally Mann at Jackson Fine Art

Ponder Heart, 2009. © Sally Mann

Proud Flesh

Exhibition on view:
September 9–October 29, 2011

Jackson Fine Art:
3115 East Shadowlawn Avenue
Atlanta, GA
(404) 233-3739

Proud Flesh is the upcoming exhibit of Sally Mann’s photography at the Jackson Fine Art. Using the human body as her main subject, Mann explores familial and spousal relationships in her photography. Born in Lexington, Virginia, Mann’s work has been showcased in museums and galleries all around the world. She has received numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mann has been featured in Aperture magazine issues 138, 162, and 194. Aperture also offers these books from Mann: Sally Mann: Proud Flesh, The Flesh and the Spirit, Immediate Family, and At Twelve.