24 January – 17 February 2018
A new exhibition to celebrate the 90th birthday year of photographer, Elliott Erwitt, will open at Beetles+Huxley in January 2018. The exhibition includes over 50 photographs surveying Erwitt’s career, ranging from photographs of New York in the late 1940s, to portraits of well-known figures and rare vintage prints from across Erwitt’s career.
Erwitt moved to New York aged just eighteen, where he became involved in the New York photography scene, meeting influential photographers, Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker. The exhibition will include two early photographs taken in New York in this formative period, in which Erwitt’s eye for composition is already evident. His first major project quickly followed in Pittsburgh in 1950, commissioned by the legendary Roy Stryker. Three recently rediscovered works from this project, further demonstrating Erwitt’s developing eye, will also be on display.
In 1953, Robert Capa, founding member of Magnum Photos, invited Erwitt to join the agency, and his career continued to go from strength to strength. Sensitively observed portraits of well-known figures such as Jack Kerouac, Arthur Miller, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, John F Kennedy, Salvador Dalí and Che Guevera amongst others, demonstrate Erwitt’s versatility when displayed alongside landscapes encompassing cityscapes and the wide-open spaces of the American west. Known for his satirical humour and sharp wit, perhaps Erwitt’s most-loved photographs are those featuring dogs and a selection of these, taken in London, Paris and New York will also be on display.
Elliott Erwitt was born in 1928 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris to Russian parents. Soon after he was born the family moved to Milan where he spent his childhood. In 1939, the family took the last ship out of peacetime Europe, arriving in New York five days after the outbreak of war. He studied photography at Los Angeles City College, but returned to New York aged just eighteen. Drafted into the US Army 1951, Erwitt continued to photograph during his service, carrying a Leica with a collapsible lens in the pocket of his uniform. Since joining Magnum in 1953, he has since become one of the world’s most successful and influential photographers and served three terms as the president of the agency.
Erwitt’s photograph of his wife, his six-day-old daughter, Ellen, and their cat, Brutus, was included in Edward Steichen’s significant photography exhibition The Family of Man in 1955 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His reputation grew as he undertook important assignments including “the kitchen cabinet debate” between President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev in 1959 and the funeral of John F. Kennedy at which he captured the president’s widow, Jackie Kennedy, in tears behind a billowing black veil. Over twenty retrospective photography books of his work have been published and he has been honoured by numerous solo shows at establishments such as the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art and the Chicago Art Institute. In 2015 he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award by the World Photography Organisation. He lives and works in New York.