So how did an early advocate for colour photography, a medium which was widely rejected as a serious art, have his work shown in over 350 exhibitions worldwide and win numerous awards including twice winning the Guggenheim Fellow?

Joel Meyerowitz, Dairyland, Provincetown, 1976 Joel Meyerowitz, Dairyland, Provincetown, 1976

Meyerowitz followed photographers before him such as Henri Cartier-Bresson in the growing art of street photography. His work revolutionised street photography in colour, after alternating between black-and-white and colour, Meyerowitz focused exclusively on colour works from 1972.

When the artist first started taking photographs in 1962, he recalled how he was ''overwhelmed. The streets, the intense flow of people, the light changing, the camera that I couldn't quite get to work quickly enough. It just paralysed me. I had to learn to identify what it was exactly I was responding to, and if my response was any good. The only way to do that is to take pictures, print them, look hard at them and discuss them with other people.''

''One of the very first things I learned working on the street is when the moment arrives—you need to take a picture of the moment and often the frame itself isn’t a perfect frame. It isn’t a Cartier-Bresson classically organized frame. It has a different kind of energy in it—it is clumsier, bolder, it is more about the first strength of the connection of whatever is going on and your strength as an artist.''

Meyerowitz's first important exhibitions included "My European Trip" which was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1968. In 1977, Joel decided to take to the quieter streets of Provincetown, Cape Cod, for his haunting Porch Series.

Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Porch Series, Provincetown, 1977 Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Porch Series, Provincetown, 1977

Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Porch Series, Provincetown, 1977 Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Porch Series, Provincetown, 1977

Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Bay/Sky Series, Provincetown Joel Meyerowitz, (b. 1938) - Bay/Sky Series, Provincetown

His talent for capturing real and raw moments meant that in his Native home of New York, he was the only photographer given access to Ground Zero in the weeks that followed the devastating events of 9/11.  Meyerowitz's images became the foundation of a major national archive, and an exhibition of selected photographs travelled to more than 200 cities in 60 countries to show the world how the people of New York were reacting to the tragedy.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 11.27.49 Joel Meyerowitz, An FDNY command post on West Street (2001)

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 11.27.29 Joel Meyerowitz, Spray painted signage on Albany Street (2001)

Meyerowitz was so passionate about documenting this moment in history that he persevered to get worker's pass by the state. He was later given an official NYPD badge by detectives as he says ''they got what I was doing. Not one of the art galleries or government officials I contacted for help in gaining access to the site got it, but the cops understood it completely.''

The photographer recalls that when he started shooting on 23rd September, 2001– the heat from the ground was so hot that it would melt the soles of his boots. His images of the emergency services' recovery mission at Ground Zero are both intimate and harrowing.

Works featured from the Porch Series will be part of Gray's auction on 30th August, 2017. See more here.

Comment