Rockefeller Center (Man and Astronaut Suit)
Black and White Photograph
14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm)
The Mishkin Gallery, Gift of Anonymous
Born in the Bronx, Joel Meyerowitz started his working career as an art director at an ad agency before discovering photography. Inspired by street photographer Robert Frank, it did not take him long to pick up a 35mm camera and begin recording the surreal, fleeting and full of energy cultural landscape of New York. Meyerowitz has described his street photography as
“jazz, a sinuous dance through the streets with a handheld camera”. During the late 1960s, he was known for carrying two cameras – one with monochrome stock, the other with color. In his early career, he was unaware of the prejudice in favor of black-and-white photos and did not realize that color photography was mostly reserved for special occasions. For a while, he was shifting between black-and-white and color film, ultimately choosing color as his primary medium. By 1972, Meyerowitz had decided to exclude monochromatic film from his portfolio entirely and began to focus on producing street scenes that depicted color and dynamism of the city. Here is probably one of the last grayscale images he has produced. It depicts a man leaning against a wall adjacent to a storefront display, which features an astronaut suit. Although it’s a black-and-white image, knowing Meyerowitz’s love for color, the viewer is still encouraged to look closely at the juxtaposition of light and dark.
Label and audio guide by Magdalena Zdunczyk, graduate student in the Arts Administration program at Baruch College.