Joel Meyerowitz Photographs From the Permanent Collection


In 2021, PAAM received an unprecedented gift of 201 photographs by Joel Meyerowitz for its permanent collection.

PAAM is pleased to have over 80 of these photographs on view through May 1, 2022 featuring artworks created on Cape Cod. From everyday scenes—an approaching storm, the Pilgrim Monument at dusk, boats on the harbor, to a number of portraits, this exhibition captures the light of Cape Cod through Joel Meyerowitz’s lens.

This exhibition has been made possible in part by William Rawn and John Douhan, and in part by The Frame Center.


Joel Meyerowitz (born March 6, 1938) is an American street, portrait and landscape photographer. He began photographing in color in 1962 and was an early advocate of the use of color during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of color photography as serious art. In the early 1970s he taught photography at the Cooper Union in New York City. His work has appeared in over 350 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Celebrated as a pioneer of color photography, he is a two-time Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of both National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities awards, and a recipient of The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal.

His work is in the collections of the International Center of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, and New York Public Library, all in New York, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

In 1962, inspired by seeing Robert Frank at work, Meyerowitz quit his job as an art director at an advertising agency and took to the streets of New York City with a 35 mm camera and color film. As well as Frank, Meyerowitz was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eugène Atget—he has said “In the pantheon of greats there is Robert Frank and there is Atget.”

After alternating between black and white and color, Meyerowitz “permanently adopted color” in 1972, well before John Szarkowski’s promotion in 1976 of color photography in an exhibition of work by the then little-known William Eggleston. Meyerowitz also switched at this time to large format, often using an 8×10 camera to produce photographs of places and people.

Meyerowitz appears extensively in the 2006 BBC Four documentary series The Genius of Photography and in the 2013 documentary film Finding Vivian Maier. In 2014 the documentary Sense of Time by German filmmaker Ralph Goertz was published.

He has published over 40 books including Cape Light, considered a classic work of color photography. Meyerowitz photographed the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to its Ground Zero immediately following the attack. This body of work was exhibited at PAAM in 2004 and resulted in the book Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive (2006), which Parr and Badger include in the third volume of their photobook history.

On January 18, 2017 Meyerowitz was honored for his lifelong work with a place at the Leica Hall of Fame and was described as a “magician using colour” and being able to “both capture and framing the decisive moment”.

Joel Meyerowitz is represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, Polka Galerie in Paris and Huxley-Parlour Gallery in London.

Meyerowitz lives and works in New York and in Italy.

Image: Joel Meyerowitz, detail of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, 1985. © Joel Meyerowitz