Elliott Erwitt

Personal Best

New York

January 11 – February 23, 2007

Press Release

A photographer since 1948 and a member of the prestigious Magnum Photo Agency since 1953, Elliott Erwitt is a keen observer of subjects ranging from major socio-political developments to young lovers in the midst of fledgling romance. Maintaining his pledge, “to capture things that are,” Erwitt’s photography stands as a monument to the humanist tradition taken up by Magnum and its founder, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Embodying both a documentarian, and humoristic impulse, Erwitt’s photographs yield a certain wit, charm, and melancholia. Erwitt states, “Some people say my pictures are sad, some think they’re funny. Funny and sad, aren’t they really the same thing?”

Born on July 26, 1928, in Paris, France, Elliott Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan. His family returned to Paris in 1938 and immigrated to New York the following year. His interest in photography began as a teenager living in Hollywood, California. While a student at Hollywood High School, Erwitt began working in a commercial darkroom developing celebrity portraiture. In 1948, Erwitt moved to New York where he met Magnum photographers: Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker. As a young member of this elite photographic milieu, Erwitt’s professional career blossomed.

Elliott Erwitt has participated in a variety of one-person exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world including: The Museum of Modern Art, New York;
The Smithsonian Institution; The Art Institute of Chicago; Zurich's Kunsthaus; and Cologne's Photokina. Elliott Erwitt has published over 15 books including Personal Exposure (Norton and Company, 1988), Snaps (Phaidon, 2001), and his most recent, Personal Best (TeNeus, 2006). In tandem with multiple terms as President of the Magnum Photo Agency, Erwitt continues to be one of the leading photographers of his generation.