Elliott Erwitt is a leading figure in advertising and documentary photography. He is known for his warm, wry sense of humor, often capturing his subjects in ironic or absurd situations. He has served as an advocate for the preservation of copyright and intellectual property rights of photographers worldwide.
Portrait: © Alex Waterhouse-Hayward, Elliott Erwitt, 1990
All Other Images: © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos
Elliott Erwitt is a French and American documentary photographer known for his humorous ironic images that speak to the absurdity that can be found in the commonplace. Whether it be a chihuahua dwarfed by the legs of his owner or a young couple standing amid rows of shrunken corpses who are far more animated than they, Erwitt reminds us of the thin line that separates the mundane and the whimsical, the real and the surreal.
Elliott Erwitt was born in Paris in 1928. His early years were spent in Milan; at the age of 11 his family emigrated to Los Angeles. In 1948, Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker in New York. They became significant mentors. In 1953, after serving in the United States Army and photographing for various publications, Erwitt joined Magnum Photos. For over half a century since then, he has produced important photojournalistic essays, worked as an advertising photographer and produced several films. He continues to exhibit actively. His book publications are numerous; at least five have been dedicated to one of his favorite subjects, dogs.
Elliott Erwitt was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal in 2002 and the International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2011. Of his own work he has said “It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”