International Center of Photography (IPC) Opens Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best

The International Center of Photography (IPC) presents Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best on view MAY 20–AUGUST 28, 2011.

An eyewitness to history and a dreamer with a camera, Elliott Erwitt has made some of the most memorable photographs of the twentieth century. A substantial retrospective exhibition of his work, Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best, will be on view at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from May 20 to August 28, 2011. The exhibition will include more than 100 of Erwitt’s favorite images, a selection of his documentary films produced over the past sixty years, as well as some previously unseen and unpublished prints from his early work. Erwitt will also be honored on May 10 as the Lifetime Achievement recipient at the 2011 ICP Infinity Awards.

Elliott Erwitt Santa Monica, California, 1955 © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

Born Elio Romano Erwitz to Russian Jewish émigrés in Paris in 1928, Erwitt spent his childhood in Italy, returned to France in 1938, and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1939. After moving to Los Angeles in 1941, Erwitt attended Hollywood High School and began working in a commercial darkroom processing photographs of movie stars. He studied filmmaking at the New School for Social Research in New York from 1949 to 1950, and worked as a documentary photographer on the Standard Oil Company project directed by Roy Stryker.

After military service, Erwitt returned to New York, where he met Edward Steichen and Robert Capa, who became strong influences in his life. In 1953, he was invited by Capa to join Magnum Photos, and in 1955 he was included in Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition. From early on, Erwitt set his own criteria for photographing. During the 1940s and 1950s, when many noted fine-art photographers followed established guidelines for exposure, focus, and composition, Erwitt developed his own ideas. With an incisive, humanistic sense of observation and a finely honed wit, he illuminated the small moments of life, even when covering major news events.

“To me, photography is an art of observation,” said Erwitt. “It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place . . . I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Throughout six decades of making pictures, Erwitt has been recognized for his versatility. While famous for personal photographs of people and dogs and widely reproduced commercial imagery, Erwitt is also respected for his work as a photojournalist. Among the iconic moments he has captured with his camera are the Khrushchev-Nixon “Kitchen Debate” in 1959, and Jacqueline Kennedy, veiled and in distress at the funeral of her husband in 1963; his photograph of segregated water is a poignant reminder of the injustices of the Jim Crow South. Erwitt is also celebrated for portraits, including such distinguished subjects as Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Kerouac, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Che Guevara.

“Erwitt is noted for his offbeat sense of humor, combining gentle whimsy with ironic observation of everyday life. Often these works involve visual puns that make the viewer look twice, but they are always organized with great elegance and precision,” said ICP Chief Curator Brian Wallis, who organized the exhibition.

Internationally renowned for his photographs, Erwitt is also a recognized filmmaker. His documentaries include Beauty Knows No Pain, Red, White and Blue Grass, and The Glassmakers of Herat. He has also produced seventeen comedies and satires for HBO. To date, he has authored more than twenty photography books, including Eastern Europe (1965), Photographs and Anti-Photographs (1972), Son of Bitch (1974), Personal Exposures (1988), Between the Sexes ( 1994), Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook (2002), and Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best (2009).

The exhibition was made possible by an anonymous donor and with public funds from the New York Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Interpreting the power and evolution of photography, the International Center of Photography is a museum and school dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of photography. ICP creates programs of the highest quality to advance knowledge of the medium. These include exhibitions, collections, and education for the general public, members, students, and professionals in the field of photography. Photography occupies a vital and central place in contemporary culture; it reflects and influences social change, provides an historical record, is essential to visual communication and education, opens new opportunities for personal and aesthetic expression, has transformed popular culture, has revolutionized scientific research, and continually evolves to incorporate new technologies.

1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street New York NY 10036 T 212 857 0045 F 212 857 0090

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published.