First released in 1983, Wild Flowers was Meyerowitz’s third photobook, and was a bold departure from his two previous projects, Cape Light and St Louis & the Arch. Captured using a view camera, the images in those projects are devoid of people and show beautiful, almost architectural landscapes that play with light and space.
In contrast, Wild Flowers is bustling with human interaction and the photographer explores “life’s rituals and follies” in a plethora of saturated colour. Now in a larger format, the updated photobook, published by Damiani, features new and previously unreleased images.
The celebrated photographer sees the world as his “visual garden” and this edition of Wild Flowers contains images that span Meyerowitz’s entire career from the 1960s all the way to 2020. From street photography to still lifes, portraits to landscapes and more, the secondary character in all of these images is flowers, and it’s what ties them all together.
The idea first came to the photographer when he was looking through his archive and saw the recurring floral motif in his street photography. To Meyerowitz, these images capture the beauty of everyday life and challenge the clichéd image of the flowers by capturing them in different contexts, and as a support to the people who appear in the images.
From a carnation pinned to a lapel on a windy wedding day to a man on a unicycle carrying a tower of paper flowers, the photographs are classic Meyerowitz in that they capture the humour, pathos and intrigue found in the day-to-day.
Meyerowitz’s wife and collaborator, Maggie Barrett, has written the foreword for this edition of the book, and in it she compares the photographer to a gardener, standing in the landscape waiting for moments to foster. As well as his talents as a photographer, Wild Flowers also highlights Meyerowitz’s gift as an editor, and his instinct for finding connections between seemingly disparate images and giving them a deeper meaning by weaving them together.
“While each of these images immortalises the given moment, the subject matter reveals the ephemeral, temporary nature of existence,” Barrett writes.
“Like all well-tended gardens, Wild Flowers is a book you can wander through over and over again and each time discover something new.”