Renowned for his unique perspective on life, Elliott Erwitt's lens captured moments ranging from the politically charged to the delightfully absurd. Passing away at 95, Erwitt leaves behind a legacy that Magnum Photos, the prestigious collective he joined in 1953, describes as a journey in seeking life's "most absurd and charming moments."
Born in Paris to Russian parents and later moving to the United States, Erwitt's career was marked by his ability to encapsulate major historical moments and the quirkier sides of everyday life. His work spanned from capturing the infamous 1959 Nixon-Khrushchev spat to intimate glimpses of sorrow, like Jacqueline Kennedy at her husband's funeral. Erwitt also had a fondness for animals, particularly dogs, which featured prominently in his work.
His photography extended to the glamour of Hollywood, as seen in his 1960 promotional shots for "The Misfits," starring Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Clark Gable. His candid portrayal of celebrities and significant cultural moments was matched only by his more whimsical work, such as a 1955 image of a couple kissing in California, captured through a car's rear-view mirror.
Magnum celebrates Erwitt's conviction that photography should stir the senses and emotions rather than just appeal to the intellect. Erwitt, who was married four times and is survived by a large family, is remembered not only for his significant contributions to the world of photography but also for the unique way he viewed the world through his lens. His work will continue to inspire and influence the art and photography world for years to come.
Elliott Erwitt is an iconic American photographer who has been capturing the world around him since the 1940s. Born on July 26, 1928 in Paris, France, he is best known for his candid black and white street photography. He has traveled the world capturing intimate moments of everyday life, and his work has been featured in countless museums, galleries, and publications.
Erwitt's photography career began at the young age of twelve when he received his first camera as a birthday present. He was immediately enthralled by the process of capturing the world around him and soon began taking pictures of his family and friends. After graduating from high school, Erwitt moved to New York City to pursue photography and study at the New School for Social Research. It was in New York that he developed his distinct style of street photography, capturing intimate moments of everyday life.
In the 1950s, Erwitt was hired by Magnum Photos, an internationally renowned photography agency, as a full-time photographer. With Magnum, he worked on a variety of assignments for publications such as Life, Look, and Holiday magazines. During this time, he also had the opportunity to travel the world, photographing people and places he encountered along the way. His work from this period is considered to be some of his best and most iconic, as it perfectly captures his unique visual style.
Erwitt's work has been featured in a variety of publications, including National Geographic, Time, and The New York Times. He has also had solo exhibitions at museums and galleries around the world, and his photographs have been part of major retrospectives at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the International Center of Photography. In addition, he has published a number of books, including the influential Personal Exposures (1978) and Dogs (1998).
Erwitt's work has been widely praised by critics, who have described it as “honest and humorous,” “unpretentious,” and “full of humanity.” His photographs are often seen as a celebration of everyday life, capturing the beauty and joy of the mundane. Erwitt himself has said that his goal is to “see the extraordinary in the ordinary.”
In addition to his photography career, Erwitt has also been an active member of the photographic community. He has served as president of Magnum Photos and as president of the International Center of Photography. He has been awarded numerous honors and awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Media Photographers and the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography.
Elliott Erwitt is one of the most beloved and respected photographers of the twentieth century. His work has been acclaimed for its insightfulness and humanity, and it continues to inspire photographers around the world. He has been capturing the world around him for more than seventy years, and his photographs will undoubtedly continue to be admired for years to come.
Visions and Images: Elliott Erwitt, 1981
Elliott Erwitt Interview NYC
Recent article in The New York Times about Elliott Erwitt: