Elliott Erwitt (born Elio Romano Erwitt, July 26, 1928) is an American advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid photos of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings. He has been a Member of Magnum Photos since 1954.
Erwitt was born in Paris, France, to Jewish-Russian immigrant parents, who soon moved to Italy. In 1939, when he was ten, his family migrated to the United States. He studied photography and filmmaking at Los Angeles City College and the New School for Social Research, finishing his education in 1950. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army, and discharged in 1953.
Erwitt served as a photographer’s assistant in the 1950s in the United States Army while stationed in France and Germany. He was influenced by meeting the famous photographers Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker. Stryker, the former Director of the Farm Security Administration’s photography department, hired Erwitt to work on a photography project for the Standard Oil Company. He then began a freelance photographer career and produced work for Collier’s, Look, Life and Holiday. Erwitt was invited to become a member of Magnum Photos by the founder Robert Capa.
One of the subjects Erwitt has frequently photographed in his career is dogs: they have been the subject of five of his books, Son of Bitch (1974), To the Dogs (1992), Dog Dogs (1998), Woof (2005), and Elliott Erwitt’s Dogs (2008).
Erwitt has created an alter ego, the beret-wearing and pretentious “André S. Solidor” (which abbreviates to “ass”) — “a contemporary artist, from one of the French colonies in the Caribbean, I forget which one” — to “satirise the kooky excesses of contemporary photography.” His work was published in a book, The Art of André S. Solidor (2009), and exhibited in 2011 at the Paul Smith Gallery in London.
Erwitt was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and an honorary fellowship (HonFRPS) in 2002 in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. and the International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award, Lifetime Achievement category, in 2011.
Since the 1970s, he has devoted much of his energy toward movies. His feature films, television commercials, and documentary films include Arthur Penn: the Director (1970), Beauty Knows No Pain (1971), Red, White and Bluegrass (1973) and the prize-winning[clarification needed] Glassmakers of Herat, Afghanistan (1977). He was, as well, credited as camera operator for Gimme Shelter (1970), still photographer for Bob Dylan: No Direction Home (2005), and provided addition photography for Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out (2009).
A collection of Erwitt’s films were screened in 2011 as part of the DocNYC Festival’s special event “An Evening with Elliott Erwitt”.
- Elliott Erwitt: Personal Best, International Center of Photography, New York, 2011
- Elliott Erwitt, Black & White and Kolor, A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, 2011
- Elliott Erwitt: Home Around The World, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, 2016–2017
- Elliott Erwitt: Pittsburgh 1950, International Center of Photography, New York, 2018
- 1972 – Photographs and Anti-Photographs, ISBN 978-0500540091
- 1972 – Observations on American Architecture, ASIN B00A6V15X4
- 1974 – Elliott Erwitt: The Private Experience. (In the series “Masters of Contemporary Photography”, text by Sean Callahan.) Los Angeles: Petersen. Sean Callahan describes and to some extent explains Erwitt’s work. ISBN 0-8227-0070-0
- 1974 – Son of Bitch, Photographs of dogs. ISBN 978-0670657223
- 1978 – Recent Developments ISBN 978-0671246464
- 1988 – Personal Exposures ISBN 978-0393026160
- 1991 – On the Beach ISBN 978-2883300033
- 1992 – To The Dogs, ASIN B01FKWM9J2
- 1993 – The Angel Tree
- 1994 – Between the Sexes ISBN 978-0393036763
- 1997 – 100+1 Elliott Erwitt ISBN 978-8878138094
- 1998 – Dog Dogs A collection of black and white photographs of dogs Erwitt was intrigued by throughout his world travels.ISBN 978-0760723036
- 1999 – Museum Watching ISBN 978-0714838946
- 2001 – Snaps. London & New York: Phaidon. A large anthology (over 500 pages) of Erwitt’s work. ISBN 0-7148-4150-1
- 2002 – EE 60/60 ISBN 978-8480033299
- 2002 – Elliott Erwitt’s Handbook ISBN 978-0971454835
- 2005 – Woof’ ISBN 978-0811851121
- 2009 – Elliott Erwitt’s Rome:teNeues Publishing ASIN B01K0U46MC
- 2009 Elliott Erwitt’s New York’ ISBN 978-3832769253
- 2010 – The Art of Andre S. Solidor aka Elliott Erwitt ISBN 978-3832793623
- 2010 – Elliott Erwitt Personal Best ISBN 978-3832791629
- 2011 – Elliott Erwitt, Sequentially Yours ISBN 978-3832795788
- 2012 – Elliott Erwitt XXL – Special and Collectors Edition ISBN 978-3832796709
- 2013 – Elliott Erwitt’s Kolor. Kempen, Germany: teNeues ISBN 9783832795771.
- 2017 – Pittsburgh 1950. London: Gost. With an essay by Vaughn Wallace. Photographs made in Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh Photographic Library. ISBN 978-1-910401-12-5