The exhibition is a retrospective of Elliott Erwitt’s work, the most comprehensive to date. It attempts to present the many facets of his work and to identify its distinctive features: humour, irony tinged with tenderness, an ever-present curiosity, an emphasis on emotion, which this cultivated man favoured over a dry intellectual approach. And above all, the humanism that permeates his entire
As he himself has said: “In fact, to say that there is humanity in my photographs is the greatest compliment I have ever received.”
His business, he says, is “the human condition.” It is also ours.
His work is structured along two axes.
One is the distinction between black and white and colour – personal black and white pictures, commissioned colour work: “I don’t use colour in my personal work. Colour is a professional matter. My life is complicated enough as it is. I stick to black and white. That’s enough.” However, if the distinction is intended, it is theoretical: Erwitt, in fact, combined artistic and commercial activity, not
without adding his own touch to his commissioned work, which thus acquired an undeniable artistic quality.
The other axis is thematic. The themes were defined by Elliott Erwitt himself; we have naturally respected their order, as well as the titles in their original English.
Finally, the current location of the exhibition is not insignificant. It offers the opportunity for a unique dialogue between the work of the photographer and that of the sculptor. However different their means of expression – the chisel for one, the camera for the other, a single model for one, a kind of collective muse with many faces for the other – the way they look at women, museums and nudity have a subtle resonance.
The top floor of the Maillol Museum is an invitation to a renewed and unexpected interpretation of works that are known or yet to be discovered.
An audioguide commenting on some forty photographs provides an immersive introduction to his work.