november 5 - december 21 2016
Polka Galerie

Joel Meyerowitz

“Taking my time”

© Joel Meyerowitz, Courtesy Polka Galerie.

Polka Galerie is pleased to present this the first facet of “Taking My Time”, a two-parts retrospective exhibition dedicated to the great photographer Joel Meyerowitz.


Autobiographical and contemplative, the exhibition digs into the memory of a spectator and comedian artist, which practice has spanned over many chapters and processes of the recent history of photography. From snapshots and tableaux to street photography and landscapes through portraits, “Taking My Time” tells the story of Joel Meyerowitz’s journey. On view until December 21st, the first part focuses on his early work from the beginning of the 60’s to the mid-70’s. A series of founding images -in colors and black and white- that prefigures his later work by revealing “Meyerowitz before Meyerowitz”. In 1962, at the age of 25, the American artist – back then, the young artistic director of an advertisement agency, randomly met a certain Robert Frank during a photo shoot. Fascinated by his frantic dancing, he commented: “I did not know it was possible to move around that much and take pictures at the same time.” 


Photography brought Joel Meyerowitz in the street, his first and favorite territory.  This is where he trained his eye for color photography -he was among the first ones-, before turning to black and white. “All I wanted was to be outside, in the streets of New York. I charged my first camera, a loan from my boss, with a color film without even thinking one second there was another option…” And he went out, photographing passer-byes, faces, businesses, the night and day vibrant life of the street during the Pop Art era, like Garry Winogrand he used to meet while he was working in the subway and in Manhattan. 


From The United States to Europe -where he did his Grand Tour-, from New York to Paris streets through the silent beaches of California, Spain and Wales, or during a holiday road trip during the Vietnam War, Meyerowitz slowly turned his photography exercise into an almost visceral body performance. His eyes wide open, without ever forcing his luck, he hunted what he called “energies”, interactions between anonymous people, cities, buildings, installations, and artificial natural landscapes frozen in their mystery. 


From January 7th to March 4th, 2017, the gallery will present the second part of the exhibition “Taking my Time”: 


With color, the famous photographer of “Cape Light”(1979) and “Bystanders” (1994) experimented a new language: that of Kodachrome film and its sometime dangerous illusion of reality. The semantic disruption brought by this new parameter in comparison to black and white incited him to pay more attention to the context of his images. In some of his more theatrical and contemplative compositions, he integrates what is outside the frame, additional information, within his shots. An image always talks about its surroundings: “What you put inside the frame or leave outside determines the meaning, but mostly the potential of an image.” Onstage and offstage, everything matters. And the film not only captures the scene but also the photographer’s dance around it.