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But Seriously

Elliott Erwitt

Magnum Gallery is honored to present a selection of more than 30 lifetime works celebrating the life, work, and legacy of legendary photographer Elliott Erwitt. The exhibition features images from an illustrious career that spanned more than 70 years and that influenced photographers across generations all around the world. On November 29, 2023, Erwitt passed away at the age of 95 surrounded by family in his Manhattan home.

Over several decades, Erwitt captured everything from the mundane to the monumental with incredible care, humor, and dedication, piquing the fascination of millions. From the start, he succeeded in both his commercial and personal projects, garnering praise and admiration from his peers who found striking the same balance far more difficult.

Adamantly against pretension both in his work and toward his subjects, he said, “For me, photography is about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Dogs were one subject he always liked, and he wasn’t shy about his fondness either, publishing four books dedicated to them during his lifetime. The endearing images provide a heartwarming and insightful look into humanity and its bond with canines, making that work some of the most adored in his remarkable oeuvre. The photographs he made of romantic partnerships show a sense of intimacy that seems both rare and ubiquitous, with a charm that’s difficult to explain. He’d caution against reading too much into any image though, saying at one time, “When the photograph happens, it comes easily, as a gift that should not be questioned or analyzed.”

But Seriously brings together black and-white photographs that exemplify the combination of wit, absurdity, and elegance wholly characteristic of his work and perspective. There are perfect pairs and unlikely ones, dogs of all sorts and people much the same, observers and unsuspecting subjects abound — all perfectly framed with unmatched playfulness and simplicity that embrace and champion what it is to be human.

Selected Works

New York, USA, 1974

Gelatin silver print, signed on recto and verso
16 x 20 in / 40 x 50 cm

Paris, France, 1989

Gelatin silver print, signed on verso
20 x 24 in / 50 x 60 cm

Provence, France, 1955

Gelatin silver print, signed on recto
16 x 20 in / 40 x 50 cm

Paris, France, 1968

Gelatin silver print, signed on recto
11 x 14 in / 28 x 36 cm