Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Captivating Meyerowitz photograph, even in the scuffed DJ version

This photograph by Joel Meyerowitz is featured on the back of the dust jacket of 1979's American Images: New Work by Twenty Contemporary Photographers. It stopped me in my tracks earlier this year when I was sorting through some boxes of coffee-table books, which tend to be an anathema to sellers of used books.

The squat luncheonette and the adjacent empty lot were on 12th Avenue between 34th and 35th streets in Manhattan in 1978 when Meyerowitz took this as part of his Empire State series. (Here's another amazing shot from that series.)

Meyerowitz, now 75, was one of the significant early adopters of color among serious photographers, according to his short Wikipedia biography. As an instructor in New York City, he influenced both his contemporaries and the next generation of street photographers during the 1970s.

In 1994, he co-authored Bystander: A History of Street Photography with Colin Westerbeck.

After 9/11, he was the only photographer who was granted unrestricted access to Ground Zero in Manhattan, and his documentation of the cleanup was published in 2006 as Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive. The book went to a second edition with new material in 2011.

I'm going to keep this dust jacket photograph of the little luncheonette. It's a little scratched and soiled and it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the quality of the original print. But, to me, a book and ephemera guy, that just adds to its character. Maybe I'll even get it framed.

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