Leica Camera AG honours and celebrates the lifework of acclaimed photographer Joel Meyerowitz with Leica Hall of Fame Award and major exhibition at Leica Galerie Wetzlar

Credit: Maggie Barrett

Joel Meyerowitz, one of the early pioneers of colour photography, will be honoured for his lifework with the Leica Hall of Fame Award and a major exhibition at ‘A Celebration of Photography’ – an event to be held by Leica Camera AG on 18 January 2017. The exhibition at the Leica Galerie Wetzlar opens on 19 January and runs until 31 March 2017.

Joel Meyerowitz is world-renowned for his street photography and capturing surprising, and often bizarre, moments of everyday life. He is perhaps best known for his early colour work of Cape Cod that was later published in his first book Cape Light (1978). As an early advocate of colour he was instrumental in changing the attitude toward the use of colour photography that was once dismissed.

Joel Meyerowitz was born in New York in 1938 and grew up in the Bronx. He studied painting and art history but soon developed a passion for photography.

It all started after a brief encounter with Robert Frank in the early 1960’s while Meyerowitz was working as an art director for an advertising agency. It was this meeting that changed his perspective and led him to a career in photography. He first hit the streets of New York and dedicated his life to street photography. Meyerowitz soon started shooting in colour and moved from using a 35mm camera to a large-format view camera. He developed a keen eye for the changing light and subtleties of his surroundings.

Joel Meyerowitz commented, “When I hold the camera in my hands, I often think it’s a kind of divining rod. It guides me. I always feel that if you carry a camera, you have a licence to see.”

Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, art director and director general of Leica Galerien International, said, “Joel Meyerowitz is one of the most important protagonists and co-founders of street and colour photography. His eye for the situation, dynamic and driven by curiosity, his unmistakeable style, his instinct for capturing the magic of everyday life and its special moments led to the creation of some of the most exceptional images in the history of photography. With the Leica Hall of Fame Award, we would like to honour his outstanding work as a photographer and his unique photographic signature. At the same time, we would like to express our particular appreciation of a rather special and sensitive person.”

New York always remained the dominant focus of his life as a photographer – from his early work from the 1960s to his evocative images taken at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11. Meyerowitz lives and works in New York and Tuscany.

The exhibition in his honour can be seen at the Leica Galerie Wetzlar from 19 January to 31 March 2017. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 20.00 and at weekends from 10.00 to 18.00.

Credit: Joel Meyerowitz, Wyoming, 1964

Credit: Joel Meyerowitz, Paris, France, 1967

Credit: Joel Meyerowitz, Paris, France, 1967

Credit: Joel Meyerowitz, New York City, 1974

The Leica Hall of Fame Award

First presented in 2011, the Leica Hall of Fame Award shares the tradition of earlier Leica Camera AG awards by recognising exceptional photographers for their particular contributions to the photographic genre, or invaluable services to the Leica brand. Previous winners of this prestigious award are Magnum photographer Steve McCurry, Barbara Klemm, long-standing editorial photographer at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Nick Út, for his momentous documentation of contemporary history in his images of the Vietnam war.

Other prominent photographers honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award are René Burri († 2014), famous for his emotive images captured before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Thomas Hoepker, who documented people and events of contemporary history with his Leica M, and decisively influenced the genre of reportage photography in the second half of the 20th century. Last year, the Leica Hall of Fame Award honoured Ara Güler, arguably Turkey’s most eminent photographer, who impressively portrayed life in the city of Istanbul, his birthplace and home, for more than 60 years, and is world famous for his incomparable black and white images of the metropolis on the shores of the Bosporus from the 1950s and 1960s.