Fragile Paper Timeships
Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, 1979-1989
In the text to his 1985 photo-essay A Summer’s Day, Joel Meyerowitz describes his photographs as “fragile paper timeships dusted with information.” A master of color photography for more than four decades, Meyerowitz catches fleeting sensations in his images, rather than just objects or observations. The source information “dusted” across his prints is often as intangible as his metaphor suggests. Drawn from a recent gift to MHCAM of 98 photographs by Meyerowitz, this exhibition explores the period of the artist’s career following the publication of his influential book Cape Light in 1979. In the ensuing decade, Meyerowitz deepened his investigation of the descriptive power of the large-format view camera that had inspired his first photographs of the landscape and architecture of Cape Cod. He continued his Bay/Sky series of tonalist seascapes, but also captured his friends and family enveloped in the light of summer. He set down his view camera in new locales and learned, as he later reflected, “to photograph without looking” and trust his sensory reality. What Meyerowitz perceives before he snaps the camera’s shutter is not a beach or a woman or a bouquet, but the vibrations of the horizon line, the sunlight electrifying a mop of red curls or the illusion of a glass vase dissolving into the misty sky behind it. Through his photographs, we are transported to zones of color and light that were not looked for, but seen.
Curated by Hannah W. Blunt, Assistant CuratorThis exhibition is made possible by the Susan Davenport Page and Margaret Page Fales Fund.