Elliott Erwitt: But Seriously

Magnum Gallery is pleased to showcase a curated collection comprising over 30 masterpieces that pay tribute to the life, achievements, and enduring influence of the iconic photographer Elliott Erwitt. This exhibition highlights snapshots from an illustrious career spanning more than seven decades, leaving an indelible mark on photographers across various generations globally. On November 29, 2023, Erwitt peacefully passed away at the age of 95 in his Manhattan residence, surrounded by loved ones. The exhibition titled “But Seriously” assembles monochrome photographs that epitomize the blend of humor, absurdity, and sophistication inherent in Erwitt’s distinctive style and perspective. The images feature perfect pairings and unexpected combinations, a diverse array of dogs and similarly diverse individuals, as well as both observers and unwitting subjects — all expertly captured with unparalleled playfulness and simplicity that celebrate the essence of human existence.
Throughout numerous decades, Erwitt meticulously documented everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary with profound care, humor, and unwavering dedication, captivating the interest of millions. Right from the beginning, he achieved success in both his commercial and personal endeavors, earning acclaim and admiration from peers who recognized the challenge of striking a similar balance.

A portrait of Elliott Erwitt by Eolo Perfido

About the Author

Born to Russian parents in Paris in 1928, Elliott Erwitt spent his early years in Milan before relocating to the United States with his family in 1939, via France. Growing up in Hollywood as a teenager, he discovered his passion for photography and gained initial experience working in a commercial darkroom. His exploration of photography continued at Los Angeles City College. In 1948, Erwitt made a pivotal move to New York, where he traded janitorial duties for film classes at the New School for Social Research.
Embarking on a journey to France and Italy in 1949 with his reliable Rolleiflex camera, Erwitt honed his photographic skills. In 1951, he was conscripted for military service, fulfilling various photographic responsibilities in the Army Signal Corps unit stationed in Germany and France.
During his time in New York, Erwitt crossed paths with influential figures such as Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, and Roy Stryker, the former head of the Farm Security Administration. Stryker initially enlisted Erwitt to work for the Standard Oil Company, where he contributed to building a photographic library. This collaboration later led to a commission to document the city of Pittsburgh.
In 1953, Erwitt joined Magnum Photos, becoming a freelance photographer for prestigious publications like Collier’s, Look, LIFE, Holiday, and others during the golden era of illustrated magazines.
In the late 1960s, Erwitt assumed the role of Magnum’s president for three years before shifting his focus to filmmaking. Throughout the 1970s, he produced noteworthy documentaries and, in the 1980s, crafted eighteen comedy films for HBO. Erwitt became renowned for his benevolent irony and a humanistic sensibility that aligned with the traditional spirit of Magnum.


Elliott Erwitt: But Seriously
From March 8 to May 25
Magnum Gallery – Paris

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