For us (Europeans), a city means above all the past, for the Americans a city is mainly future; what they love in it is all that it may yet be.” That is what Jean-Paul Sartre had to say about the American city in the mid-20th century. With their distinctive and instantly recognisable urban grammar, those cities of the future hold a significant place in our collective unconscious, symbolising Western progress, the consumer society and the American dream.

Born in the world’s most iconic city, New Yorker Joel Meyerowitz is a pioneer of what we call “street photography”. He studied painting then embarked on a photography career in the 1960s. Inspired by another giant of American photography, Robert Frank, he produced his first series in black and white. However, he went on to become a pioneer of colour film, which he finally adopted in 1976 because, as he is fond of saying, “life is in colour”. This choice set him apart from many other artists who shunned this new photographic style, but it ultimately contributed to the success of his work.

This exhibition goes beyond a mere retrospective and instead embarks viewers on a journey through the transformation and diversification of the American cities that he has passed through over the years. From the tranquil evening vibe of a roadside diner sign to the chaotic energy of a New York intersection at rush hour, via the splendour of a Florida swimming pool… each image contributes to a stunning fresco that reveals the soul of a nation and its people. Joel Meyerowitz observes, frames, playfully brings out the detail, and transforms the ordinary into something extraordinary. A journey along linear streets where the light dances on the façades of the buildings, that soar skywards. And where passers-by become unwilling extras in this magnificent movie entitled America.



Exhibition organised in collaboration with the Polka gallery, Paris.
Thanks to Dimitri Beck and Adélie de Ipanema.
Scenography designed with the support of Woodstone.
Logo Woodstone


© Joel Meyerowitz|Galerie Polka • Exhibition Through the cities