The people of New York City have always been an inspiration to Bronx-born photographer Joel Meyerowitz. Heavily influenced by the street photography of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Meyerowitz captured his subjects with a compact 35mm camera. In the 1960s, when he began his investigation into street photography, he was unaware that he would become one of the first advocates of color photography. Now, his vibrantly colored and vividly patterned photographs of New Yorkers are some of his best-known artworks.
In 2001, when New York City was in a state of mourning after the attacks on September 11th, he again took to the street. Driven by “a strong desire to help or be useful in some way,” Meyerowitz, with his camera in-hand, made his way to the site where the Twin Towers once stood, only to be informed of a “no photos” policy that even applied to reporters and photojournalists. Meyerowitz knew this was an important moment in history that should be documented, and through persistence and determination, he obtained permission to archive “the Pile” at Ground Zero. For eight and a half months, Meyerowitz dedicated himself to photographing the realities of the rubble, creating over 8,000 photographs. Over time, he came to the realization that in places and sites of great tragedy, beauty can exist. Many of his photographs share this eerie connotation in their subject matter, from depictions of bleak mounds of dirt and steel to the physical evidence of lives lost and its effect on the city.
In September 2006, a collection of these historic images was published in a book titled Aftermath. This series invites observers to empathize with and become part of the teams of workers during those difficult months. Due to Meyerowitz’s creation of this wrenching group of photographs, the hole left in the ground and the hearts of the country did not become a hole in history.
Curated by museum interns Cecelia Grant (Kutztown University) and Shannon Hahn (Pennsylvania State University).
All Berman exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public