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Joel Meyerowitz Tells the Story Behind Three Photographs from His Archive

An early advocate of color photography, Joel Meyerowitz has impacted and influenced generations of artists. For fifty-eight years, the master photographer has documented the US’s ever-changing social landscape. Now, Aperture and Meyerowitz launch a special ten-day print sale, featuring three 5-by-7-inch prints signed by the artist.

This also marks the launch of a new undertaking by Meyerowitz and his studio to scan his archive of over 140,000 previously unseen Kodachrome slides. At the age of eighty-two, Meyerowitz feels the necessity of bringing his nearly six decades of work into a searchable and comprehensive archive and study center.

“In the early years of the ’60s and ’70s, photography wasn’t taken as seriously as it is now, nor were there many places showing photographs,” Meyerowitz explains. “So, there were lots of images that went into the files after a first look and remained there, waiting to see daylight someday. That time is here, and at my age, I want to act on scanning all this work while I can still feel the excitement.”

Proceeds from the print sale not only help support Aperture and fund Meyerowitz’s archiving project, but a portion will also be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative.

“Aperture and I have a long and supportive relationship, and any way I can help further their not-for-profit programs is a step toward keeping the medium, and Aperture’s efforts, alive,” Meyerowitz says. “At the same time, the Equal Justice Initiative needs our support to do their work, which is absolutely necessary if we want to evolve as a just society.”

Below are insights from Meyerowitz on his three selected prints, available exclusively through Aperture through July 26.

Madison Avenue, New York, 1974 

The corner, back in the ’70s, was where I most often liked to work because of the chaotic mix that traversed it. There was always such good nonstop energy up and down the avenue, while the cross streets poured their abundance continuously across the frame. So when a sudden gust of hot, New York summer air made the woman clamp her hat to her head she became, in that split second, like a ship’s figurehead to me, and I reacted immediately.

Paris, France, 1967 

I remember being in Paris for the first time in 1966—67, and for the six weeks that I was there, I often saw this purple couple scooting around the city, always dressed in some version of this color. But then, to be walking through the Bois de Boulogne and to see them there mounting their scooter, while their color appeared both in the car window and under their feet, was a kind of eye candy I couldn’t resist. Not to mention that all the cars played a perfect background color for me.

St. Louis, Missouri,1978 

How could I pass this up? It’s many things all at once: a great collection of signage and graphics probably from before the Great Depression; the visual joke of BRAINS 25¢ and the idea of driving in to get some, which still pleases me; and then there is the aching, bittersweet loneliness of finding myself at the edges of a failing middle American city and discovering this kind of original beauty.

For ten days only, collect three signed 5-by-7-inch prints by Joel Meyerowitz for just $120.20 each during our special print sale. Proceeds support Aperture and Meyerowitz’s archive project, with an additional percentage of sales being donated to Equal Justice Initiative. Sale ends Saturday, July 26 at midnight EDT.

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