MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY … ROBERT DOISNEAU

Written and researched by Stefano Cerquetani

Robert Doisneau

(Gentilly, France 14.04.1912 – Montrouge, France 01.04.1994)

“To those who enjoy breathing the smell of incense, I recommend a different profession. The photographer pulls the sleeve of the rushed man with a blank stare and shows him the free and permanent show of the street”. (Robert Doisneau)

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The greatest exponent of the so-called humanist current of street photography, a lover of stolen shoots, Robert Doisneau was fascinated by emotions, from the small moments of life of a city in turmoil, as the twentieth-century Paris was; on the streets, people meet with inattention, as well as their stories did, drawing a puzzle of feelings that together contribute to define the profile of the city itself.

 

 

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Graduated engraver lithographer at the Etienne school, he decided to leave that path to throw himself into the living and the harsh reality of the suburbs, a dimension that no one considered at the time. He started collaborating in 1946 with the Rapho Photo Agency, a collaboration that will last for almost fifty years, driven by the desire to donate the right dignity and the right value to photography, he concerned himself primarily with subjects that did not interest anyone else and that they had not have commercial value.

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Doisneau does not tell of a conventional city, like the one shown in the world of advertising, fashion, newspapers or movies but a Paris of little people, of the art of the accordion, of adults and children, whose eyes exude humanity and tenderness. Paris is a city in constant motion, which Doisneau photographs in many ways, a city shaken by the ideas of great artists such as Prévert, Cendrars and Picasso, with whom he holds a friendship that will further enhance its great sensitivity, both as a man and as an artist.

 

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He says: “Two things move me along: disobedience and curiosity, as a reaction to group phenomena; in a group one is obedient so that things work out. I was never interested in fame which goes against curiosity and disobedience. The only way out is therefore the cunning represented for me by photography. ”
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His daughter, Francine Deroudille, tells how his father felt more a craftsman than an artist, attentive to the graphics and composition of his work and at the question of how she would describe in one sentence the extraordinary work of her father, she said: “Love for freedom”, a response that is echoed in the words of Doisneau himself: “The few images that, in the course of time, continue to remain afloat piled like corks in the whirlpool of a river, were shot during the hours stolen from my various employers. To me disobedience is a vital function and I must say that I have never deprived myself of it ”

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Many photographers have imitated him and his photos have set a trend: humanity portrayed by him is a unique and outstanding document; never intrusive, his eye is discreet, his camera is never too close to the subject, he does not like close-ups to communicate the essence of the people but he prefers open scenes, where the space speaks and those who inhabit it make it alive and vibrating. In an interview it can be read: “I’ll explain how you can gain the desire to do photography. Often it is the continuation of a dream. I wake up one morning with an extraordinary desire to see, to experience. Then I have to go. But not too far, because if you wait too long, the enthusiasm, the need, the desire will disappear. I do not think one can “watch” intensively for more than two hours a day. ”

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He continues: “I have always tried to make fun of something. Also getting older, what matters is to continue to be curious, to wonder. I still like to go for a walk for a couple of hours. When I choose a corner, a person, so many factors and phenomena come into play that are unconscious: a book that has been read, an old emotion. Sometime one must wait for over two hours on the same spot and observe; wait against all logic. It can happen that something will take place there. Most often it happens with effort and fatigue, it can be vaguely foreseen. Then a character crossed the Seine, just by chance, by mistake. And that mistake is what I’m trying to capture. Sometimes the meetings are planned, some others time they will happen on you. I’m waiting. I wait for the actors to come acting, not in the world that is, but in the one I want to be. ”

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I conclude this brief tribute to the great photographer Robert Doisneau, reporting his comment, which helps to understand the spirit of his work and the greatness of his sensibility:

“Toute ma vie je me suis amuse, je me suis fabriqué mon petit théâtre.”
“All my life I had fun, I made my own little theatre”

MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – Saul Leiter

Written and researched by Carlo Traina

Saul Leiter(Pittsburg 3.12.1923 – 26.11.2013)

“Sam Leiter had, an uncanny ability to pull complex situations out of everydaylife,  images  that  echo  the  abstraction  of  painting  and  yet,  simultaneously,clearly depict the world.”

(Magnum Photographer Alex Webb)

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Although introduced in the US since 1907, color photography has begun to takeshape as an artistic expression only in the fifties, with photographers such asErnst Haas, Helen Levitt, and others. In this generation stands Saul Leiter, whoimmortalized the streets of New York for more than half a century: from thefifties, in fact, until his death in November of 2013.

saul leiter-christmas-1950s Saul  Leiter  was  born  in  Pittsburg,  Pennsylvania,  December  3,  1923.  At  23,having left his studies to become a rabbi, Saul became interested in painting,especially the Impressionist, but soon moved his passion  to  photography. Hebegan shooting in black and white with a 35mm Leica, but in 1948 he moved tocolor, and  he started with other contemporary photographers such as RobertFrank and Diane Arbus, the”New York School of photography”.

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saul-leiter-06 His consecration takes place in 1957, when at the MoMa in New York, duringthe conference "Experimental Photography in Color", is officially recognized asa "Color" author..Influenced by painting, Leiter tries to bring  to photography  the chromaticismand the strong colors of Abstract Expressionism, blurring the subjects throughthe windows wet  with  rain,  framing them with  very accurate  compositionalchoices,  using every color that the city offers. The visual language is that offragmentation, but color intensity is always the most characteristic feature ofhis photos. None of his contemporaries (with the only partial exception of HelenLevitt) has pioneered the use of color as Leiter.

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spreadSmall01Leiter has worked for more than 20 years as a fashion photographer, but itsbest production is undoubtedly the one about "Street Photography", with  hisphotos taken especially in New York.The  image  of  the  Big  Apple  that  Leiter  shows  is  almost  never  "direct" or"clean":  it is  seen  through  reflections,  mirrors  and  glass,  shadows  andsilhouettes, it offers glimpses of everyday life, peeking between two buses thatintersect, from a taxi speeding, clouded by rain, snow, fog, doors.Virtuoso ofthe depth of field,  he  blurs sections of photos in a way that make them lookstrokes of color.For  him,  the  camera  is not a  tool  for  shooting  reality faithfully,  but  analternative way to see it, reinterpret it. Although his subjects are taken up inthe vortex of Manhattan, he is able to represent  a  peaceful humanity . Thepredominant emotion in his work is the silence, the tenderness, and the gracethat is in contrast to the mad rush of life on the streets of New York.

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Bashful photographer ,  Leiter  was discovered  late  by the general  public.  In2005 he opened the first  exhibition consisting of  his  color  photos  from theHoward Greenberg Gallery of Manhattan and in 2006  the book  “Saul Leiter:Early  Color”  was  printed.  Recently  the  director  Tomas  Leach  shot  thedocumentary “In No Great Hurry ” that shows and tells how Leiter thinks by themeans of a long interview and his photos.

MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – MARTIN ELKORT

Written and researched by Carlo Traina

MARTIN ELKORT (New York 18 aprile 1929)

“A beautiful photograph, like a beautiful poem, always contains a mystery, an elusive and hauntingnucleus that makes us return again to probe its depths, hoping to winnow yet another insight. Themystery is often in plain sight but its meaning may be obscured with the passage of time”

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Martin Edward Elkort is an American photographer, illustrator and writer known above all for hisstreet photography. Born in New York in 1929, he grew up during the Great Depression. He tookhis first "professional" photo at the age of 10, during a car journey with his family in Baltimore. TheBaltimore Sun bought his photos of cars submerged during a flood, and at that point, he is won overby photography. At age 15 Martin contracted polio, and he is forced to spend four months in thehospital. When he returned home, his parents gave him his first Ciroflex, a twin-lens reflex camera.After his recovery, Martin began to go around Manhattan, where he took all kinds of pictures .

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While he was studying painting at Cooper Union in New York City, Martin became a member of theNew York Photo League, an organization of photographers who – through their shots – representedone of the most important and quoted social documentation centers, capable of capturing interestingmoments of everyday life.  Between 1936 and 1951,  the photographers of the  New York PhotoLeague took to the streets to record the effects of poverty, war, racial inequality and social injustice.Their attention was centered on the city of New York and its lively streets: the shoe shiners, acrowded beach at Coney Island, the  windows,  the  children.

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Many of  the  images are  nice,  butharbored a strong social commentary on the issues of class, race, and opportunities. Those of MartinElkort stood out, however, because Martin was always trying to show – although in the contest ofthe difficult historical moment – the joyful and positive side of life, through the innocence of theimages. Its goal was to capture the general optimism of this post-war period.

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With the  camera around the  neck, Martin Elkort walked peering through the frosted glass. Hedeveloped the ability to walk and take pictures to people without them being aware of that. Duringthis period he worked at the Wildenstein & Company gallery where further enhances his knowledgeand photographic technique. When in 1953 he got married, he realized that he would have to support his family by means otherthan photography. He moved to New Mexico where he became art editor and photographer for theNew Mexico Magazine. He moved to different  locations (Los  Angeles,  Alaska,  New  York) tofinally retire in 1966. At that point he decided to write books and articles for various magazines, heworked as a food critic, till finally, at the age of 70 years, he rekindled his interest in photographythanks to digital photography. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, where he continuesto enjoy his street photography and writes articles on several photography magazines, including ” Rangefinder ” and ” Black &White Magazine”.

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The work of Martin Elkort has been exhibited in several cities all over the world and can be foundin the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art,  the Getty Museum,  the ColumbusMuseum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Washington DC Museum of the Holocaust,the Jewish Museum in Brooklyn as well as many corporate and private collections.

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The story of Martin Elkort is told in the documentary  “An American mirror ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwejuzE5HXY

MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – PAUL MCDONOUGHMASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – PAUL MCDONOUGH

Written and researched by Carlo Traina

PAUL MCDONOUGH

If I am standing in one place long enough, someone might say—‘Did you just take a picture of me?’, I would reply—‘What picture?’ There are no pictures, I am exposing film. When the film gets developed—that is when I discover pictures.”

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Paul McDonough began to take photos with the same aim a painter normally takes a quick pencil sketch to then paint that subject on a canvas. It’s toward painting that McDonough pointed initially his attention. But it is by the means of these first shots that he realized how difficult it would have been to represent in the closed space of a studio, such variety of situations and images and the huge potential of photography when it comes to represent reality. So he progressively left painting and engaged himself completely with photography.

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After various wanderings in other cities, McDonough arrived in New York in 1967. In a city as diverse and cosmopolitan, he got the confirmation that taking photos represented for him an act of liberation: “…to photograph has met my pulse … I have learned to bring with me a camera everywhere, at all times, loaded with film at ISO speed 400. ”

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Paul likes to seize the unique moments, the many oddities that New York offers, managing to mix in a single image both the public and the private. The captured scenes show the movement of New Yorkers who live in the concrete jungle.
Along with the usual crowd of workers and shoppers, there are more secondary characters highly  characteristic: the guy dressed as a Viking, complete with the helmet; “Rat Man,” with wide open eyes and a rubber mouse on his arm to scare people. There is the man dressed as Uncle Sam or the one who sings arias of Italian opera while walking down Fifth Avenue.
At every corner of the city there is the opportunity to capture a special photo, surely something can happen at any moment, worthy of being photographed. This is the spirit that pushes Paul McDonough to go out always with a camera with him.

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His first series of photos that had to relate to the Big Apple, “New York from 1968 to 1972”.
“People are in their own world when they walk”. “If I am standing in one place long enough, someone might say—‘Did you just take a picture of me?’, I would reply—‘What picture?’ There are no pictures, I am exposing film. When the film gets developed—that is when I discover pictures.”

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This concept was better expressed by McDonough, in a later interview: “I often live an unexpected joy in finding a detail within the frame that enhances the greater meaning of the image. One detail that I had not noticed at the time of shooting. ”

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In the first years of its activity the works of McDonough were not particularly appreciated: with the exception of three prints sold to the Museum of Modern Art in 1973, for his appreacition to grow we have to wait until 2007, when he met the art dealer Sasha Wolf, who published in a volume the work of McDonough and exhibited his.

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article-0-18D095A6000005DC-155_964x631Written and researched by Carlo Traina

PAUL MCDONOUGH

Se sto fermo in un posto abbastanza a lungo qualcuno mi chiederà – Hai scattato un’foto di me? , Io gli risponderei “Quale foto? Non c’è nessuna foto , sto solamente esponendo la pellicola alla luce. Quando sviluppo la la pellicola – allora scopro se ci sono delle foto”

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Paul McDonough inizia a fotografare con lo stesso scopo per cui i pittori tracciano degli schizzi veloci a matita per riportarli successivamente su tela. E’ verso la pittura infatti che McDonough rivolge i suoi primi interessi. Ma è proprio attraverso quegli scatti che si accorge di quanto sarebbe stato difficile rappresentare nel chiuso di uno studio immagini e situazioni così varie e presenti, e dell’enorme potenzialità rappresentativa che invece la fotografia racchiudeva. Abbandona così progressivamente la pittura e si dedica totalmente alla fotografia.

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Dopo vario peregrinare in altre città, McDonough arriva a New York nel 1967. In una città così varia e cosmopolita ha la conferma che fotografare rappresenta per lui un atto liberatorio: “… fotografare ha soddisfatto i miei impulsi … Ho imparato a portare una macchina fotografica ovunque, in ogni momento, caricata con pellicola a ISO 400.”

A Paul piace cogliere i momenti unici, le tante stranezze che New York offre, riuscendo a miscelare in una stessa immagine sia il pubblico che l’intimo.

Le scene catturate mostrano i movimenti di newyorkesi che abitano la giungla di cemento.

Insieme alla solita folla di lavoratori e acquirenti, ci sono sempre personaggi caratteristici secondari ma unici: quello vestito da vichingo, completo di elmo; “Rat Man”, con gli occhi sbarrati e un topo di gomma nel suo braccio per spaventare le persone. C’é un uomo vestito da Zio Sam oppure quello che canta arie dell’opera italiana mentre passeggia lungo la Quinta Avenue.

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In ogni angolo della città c’é l’opportunità di cogliere una foto unica, sicuramente in ogni momento può accadere qualcosa degni di essere fotografato. E’questo lo spirito che spinge Paul McDonough ad uscire sempre con la macchina fotografica.

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La sua prima serie di fotografie non può che riguardare la Grande Mela: “New York 1968-1972.

“Le persone sono nel loro mondo quando camminano. Se qualcuno mi chiedesse: Mi hai appena scattato una foto?” Io risponderei: Che foto? Non ci sono foto, io sto facendo prendere luce ad una pellicola. Solo quando la pellicola verrà sviluppata io scoprirò che immagine c’è.”

Questo concetto Paul McDonough lo esprime meglio in una successiva intervista: “Spesso vivo una gioia inaspettata nel trovare un dettaglio all’interno del fotogramma che amplifica il significato più grande dell’immagine. Un dettaglio che non avevo notato al momento dello scatto”.

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Nei primi anni della sua attività le opere di McDonough non sono state particolarmente apprezzate: a parte tre stampe vendute Museum of Modern Art nel 1973, per la sua valorizzazione si è dovuto aspettare il 2007, quando cioè ha incontrato il gallerista Sasha Wolf, che ha pubblicato in un volume l’opera di McDonough ed esposto le sue foto.

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MASTERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – JOEL MEYEROWITZMAESTRI DI STREET PHOTOGRAPHY – JOEL MEYEROWITZ

Written and researched by Carlo Traina

JOEL MEYEROWITZ

 (New York, 6 March 1938)

 “An artist’s responsibility is to not avert his gaze. Maybe you can’t correct it by pointing it out, but you can at least certify that you saw it at that time, and that it was painful to you”.

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Beyond the “content” of his photos, one of the main achievements of Joel Meyerowitz in photography is to have transformed the “colour” in a full-blown language. Up to the middle of the 60 because of the technical difficulties to obtain true colours when printing, and most of all of the habit of seeing photos as a scale of greys, colour photography met quite a resistance.  Meyerowitz understood the power of communication behind colours and was able, thanks to his shots so vivid and full of colours, to have colour photography accepted nearly universally as the new way to represent the world.

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JoelMeyerowitz Joel Meyerowitz was born in New York in 1938, in the East Bronx, where he lived “a peaceful relationship with the energy and the spontaneous craziness of life of those streets.” His interest in photography was born after following Robert Frank in a photographic shooting. The ease with which Frank moved, while photographing people on the move, fascinated him so much that he left his job, he borrowed a camera and started taking pictures on the streets of New York.

Meyerowitz has published numerous books and exhibited his shoots in thousands of shows, but two are the “jobs” that stand out for originality: a journey of a year in Europe (with photo shoot directly from the car), and the images of Ground Zero taken immediately after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

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The curiosity to of Meyerowitz to go in a world different from the usual and the desire to dispel the stereotype that portrays the American abroad as the superficial, are the elements that originated the desire for a trip to Europe. He thus took two cameras (one with color film and one with black and white film, to shoot the same scene twice, with two different “eyes”) and then passed 12 months taking pictures especially from the car. It is only after that trip that he finally decided to embrace color. Meyerowitz say so about that experience: “After a few weeks of doing this on a regular basis, I had the sense that I was inside the camera, that the car was the camera obscura and I was in it looking out the window, which was a frame.”

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After a series of collaborations with leading photographers (Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus), Meyerowitz published his first book: “Cape Light” (1979), which is considered a classic of color photography and sold – in 25 years – more than 100,000 copies. 14 more books followed, including: “Bystander: The History of Street Photography”, and “Tuscany: Inside the Light”.

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Immediately after the attacks of September 11 in New York’, Meyerowitz was the only photographer allowed to shoot the scenes of destruction. In a few days, he created an archive of thousands of images that document both the disaster and the work of recovery around the World Trade Center. Among these, Meyerowitz has selected 28 images that make up the exhibition “After September 11: Images from Ground Zero.” Between 2001 and 2004, the exhibition was presented in more than 200 cities in 60 countries, and has been seen by more than three and a half million people.

Apart from the monographic collections (such as the photos taken in Tuscany), “Street” images by Meyerowitz largely mirror the everyday life of New York: the faces of everyday people, in the frenzy of the race to work, or in relaxation while resting on a bench. These images are characterized by the play of contrasting colors and lights and shadows, and shoot close to the subjects.

Meyerowitz, in strict “Street” style, is part of the scene, does not hide. With his Leica 35 mm he is always “among” the people and, in contravention of a rule followed in most photography, often he seeks the bright light of the sun, the one that creates sharp shadows on the faces and figures, as well as creates, in the frame, large color contrasts (underlined by signs, posters, flashy clothes) and black.

This, in addition to making Meyerowitz definitely one of the “masters” of the “color photograph”, it places him by authority among the most respected artists ever. His works are in fact exposed in the MoMa museum in New York, in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts and in many others.

http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joel-Meyerowitz/161412238404

http://www.in-public.com/JoelMeyerowitzWritten and researched by Carlo Traina

JOEL MEYEROWITZ

 (New York, 6 March 1938)

“La responsabilità di un fotografo è quella di non distogliere lo sguardoForse non puoi correggere il male indicandoloma puoi almeno certificare ciò che hai che avete visto in quel momento, e che era doloroso per te “.

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Al di là dei “contenuti” delle sue foto, uno dei meriti principali di Joel Meyerowitz nel campo della fotografia è stato quello di avere trasformato il colore in linguaggio. Fino alla metà degli anni ’60 le difficoltà tecniche di ottenere colori fedeli in sede di stampa, e soprattutto  l’abitudine a vedere le foto secondo le scale di grigio, avevano creato una vera e propria resistenza nei confronti della fotografia a colori. Meyerowitz comprese però la potenza comunicativa dei colori, riuscendo infine – attraverso le sue foto vive e cromatiche – a fare accettare quasi universalmente questo nuovo modo di rappresentare il mondo.

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 Joel Meyerowitz nasce a New York nel 1938, nell’East Bronx, dove vive “una relazione tranquilla con l’energia e la spontanea follia della vita di quelle strade”. L’interesse per la fotografia arriva dopo avere seguito Robert Frank in un suo lavoro fotografico. La facilità con cui Frank si muove, fotografando persone anch’esse in movimento, lo affascina così tanto che abbandona il suo lavoro, si fa prestare una macchina fotografica e comincia a scattare per le strade di New York. Meyerowitz ha pubblicato numerosi libri ed esposto le sue foto in migliaia di mostre, ma due sono sicuramente i “lavori” che si distinguono per originalità: un viaggio di un anno in Europa (con foto scattare direttamente dall’automobile), e le immagini di Ground Zero riprese immediatamente dopo gli attentati dell’11 settembre.

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Il desiderio di un viaggio in Europa deriva dalla curiosità di Meyerowitz  di spingersi in un mondo differente da quello abituale, e di sfatare anche il luogo comune che dipinge come superficiale l’ americano all’estero. Prende così due macchine fotografiche (una con pellicola a colori ed una con pellicola in bianco e nero, per riprendere la stessa scena due volte, con due “occhi” diversi) e passa 12 mesi a scattare foto soprattutto dall’automobile.  E’ dopo quel viaggio che decide di abbracciare definitivamente il colore.  Meyerowitz racconta così quell’esperienza: “dopo alcune settimane, ho avuto la sensazione che fossi dentro la macchina fotografica, che l’automobile fosse la camera oscura e io dentro di essa a guardare fuori dalla finestra, che era una cornice. “

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Dopo una serie di collaborazioni con importanti fotografi (Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge e Diane Arbus), Meyerowitz pubblica il suo primo libro: “Cape Light” (1979) che è considerato un classico della fotografia a colori e ha venduto – in 25 anni – più di 100.000 copie.  Seguono altri 14 libri, tra cui:  Bystander: The History of Street Photography, e Tuscany: Inside the Light.

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Subito dopo gli attacchi dell’’11 settembre a  New York , Meyerowitz è l’unico fotografo autorizzato a riprendere le scene della distruzione. In pochi giorni crea un archivio di migliaia di immagini che documentano sia il disastro che le opere di recupero intorno al World Trade Center. Tra queste, Meyerowitz  ha selezionato 28 immagini che compongono la mostra “Dopo l’11 settembre: Immagini da Ground Zero “. Tra il 2001 e il 2004, la mostra è stata presentata in più di 200 città in 60 paesi, ed è stata vista da oltre tre milioni e mezzo di persone . A parte le raccolte monografiche (come ad esempio le foto scattate in Toscana) le immagini “Street” di Meyerowitz riprendono prevalentemente la vita quotidiana di New York: persone e volti di tutti i giorni, nella frenesia della corsa verso il lavoro, o nella rilassatezza di un riposo su una panchina. Sono immagini caratterizzate dal gioco dei contrasti cromatici e delle luci ed ombre, e

riprese vicino ai soggetti: Meyerowitz in rigoroso stile “Street” fa parte della scena, non si nasconde. Con la sua Leica 35 mm è sempre “tra” la gente e, contravvenendo ad una delle regole più seguite in fotografia, cerca spesso la luce forte del sole, quella che crea ombre nette sui volti e sulle figure, così da creare, nel fotogramma, ampi contrasti di colore (sottolineato da insegne, cartelli, vestiti sgargianti) e di nero.

Tutto ciò, oltre a fare di Meyerowitz sicuramente uno dei “maestri” della “fotografia a colori”, lo inserisce d’autorità tra gli artisti più apprezzati in assoluto. I suoi lavori , infatti, sono esposti al MoMa di New York, al Metropolitan Museum of Art e in molti altri

His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many others.

http://www.joelmeyerowitz.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joel-Meyerowitz/161412238404

http://www.in-public.com/JoelMeyerowitz

interview with….

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