Elliott Erwitt

Pioneer of the Social Landscape Vintage Photographs 1950-1978


December 8, 2005 - January 14, 2006
New York

A photographer since 1948 and a member of Magnum Photos since 1953 Elliott Erwitt’s early photographs set a precedent for a genre—the social landscape. This work anticipated the iconic imagery of Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand, Robert Frank (whose first roommate, upon arriving to the United States, was Erwitt) among others who embraced the genre. Juxtaposing natural and manmade landscapes, Erwitt’s photographs recall an awareness of how man affects his natural surroundings in blatant and ironic ways. Overtly conscious that the eye of the camera depends on four key factors—frame, perspective, focus and time—Erwitt’s camera-vision arrangements strike the viewer with their meticulous composition and simultaneous “decisive moment” precision.

Born on July 26, 1928, in Paris, Elliott Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan. His family moved back to Paris in 1938, immigrated to New York the following year. His interest in photography began while he was a teenager living in Hollywood. While attending Hollywood High School, he began working in a commercial darkroom in 1944. In 1948 Erwitt moved to New York where he met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker and his professional photography career commenced.

Elliott Erwitt has had one-person exhibitions in numerous museums and galleries around the world including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, Zurich's Kunsthaus and Cologne's Photokina. Several editions of a large retrospective exhibition based on his book Personal Exposures have been touring the United States, Europe and Japan since 1989. With over 15 books to his name and multiple terms as President of Magnum, Erwitt continues to be one of the leading figures of his pioneering generation.

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