Comments/Context: Before seeing this expansive retrospective exhibition, I must admit to being guilty of underestimating Elliott Erwitt. My opinion going in was that Erwitt was a talented and well regarded photojournalist with a light touch and a humanist eye, who often found moments of humor in everyday life; in short, a stock characterization, derived from seeing a grab bag of his work in passing over the years. As with comedic actors at the Academy Awards, photographers who employ humor often get taken for granted, as if what they do is somehow easier or less important than those who take a more "serious" or "conceptual" path. And given Erwitt's history with dogs, kids, beachgoers, and other whimsical subjects, I guess it is not altogether surprising that his reputation might be unintentionally skewed toward simple joys and small giggles.
In general, I enjoyed this show far more than I expected I would, and I came away with a much deeper appreciation and respect for Erwitt's work. It is nearly impossible to avoid a few chuckles and guffaws while strolling through these galleries, but don't let the absurdity of it all mask the undeniable craftsmanship required to capture these seemingly endless moments of wonder.
Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)
- Artist site (here)
- Magnum Photos page (here)
- Reviews: NY Times (here), New Yorker (here), Photograph (here), The Online Photographer (here)
Through August 28th
International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036