Bethesda Fountain, Central Park

Accession Number

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park

Joel Meyerowitz

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

11 in x 14 in (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm);18 1/8 in x 22 1/16 in (46.04 cm x 56.04 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Selma & Gerald Lotenberg

Label copy
The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace is one of the chief attractions of Central Park. At first glance, this photograph appears to depict two African-American men seated along the edge of the fountain's pool. Only on looking again does the viewer notice the arms wrapped around the bare-chested man.

Influenced by Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, and Robert Frank, Meyerowitz sums up his relationship to photography, stating: "Fame and success are not the goals. The goal is to understand something of the medium's power, and something about how you are in the world, how it makes you see. Response, intelligence, clarity of intuition all are essential. Somebody goes out again and again, stands still for a moment, then brings us back a message that stands for a whole time. Look at what Atget did."
Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections & Exhibitions
on the occasion of the exhibition New York Observed: The Mythology of the City
(July 13 – September 22, 2003)

Subject matter
In this photograph, a man sits on the lap of a woman who hugs him from behind. They are perched on the ledge of a large circular pool in Central Park in Manhattan, sharing the spot with a man who sits to the right of the couple. A multi-tiered fountain rises in the middleground directly behind the couple, while small blurry figures sit on the ledge at the far end of the pool in the background. While the scene framed by the photograph lacks any visual incidence, the outward gaze of the figures in the foreground imply happenings beyond the right side of the frame.

Physical Description
Photograph of a man sitting on the lap of a woman on the ledge of a public fountain.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
parks (recreation areas)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted