“The Woody Allen of Photography”
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s 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.”
This quote by Elliott Erwitt, which I read on one of the most interesting museum labels accompanying the exhibition, in my view perhaps best explains his photos. Many of his works can be admired in a magnificent exhibition in the Kunsthaus Wien (open through September 30, 2012).
Vienna currently offers an awful lot for photography fans. In contrast to Joel Sternfeld, whose color photos are current on exhibit at the Albertina in Vienna (I reported on this exhibition in my last blog entry, Elliott Erwitt photographed exclusively in black and white. “My life is already complicated enough – that’s why I stick with black and white,” the artist remarked. And how ingeniously he does this!
Right in the first room of the exhibition are two very famous shots. The photograph of Jackie Kennedy, walking behind the casket of her murdered husband, is so full of emotion that you immediately feel the sheer desperation. The world-famous picture, the Kitchen Debate, which was shot at an exhibition in Moscow, shows entirely different types of emotion.
Erwitt, a member and for many years president of the famous Magnum agency, very clearly differentiates between his commissioned works and the photos that he made for himself as an amateur. More than anything, these latter photos are fascinating in their brilliant humor. I had to laugh out loud more than once when viewing one of his pictures. A large part of the exhibition is dedicated to his dog photos – the picture in which the torso of a dog owner is perfectly superimposed on his bulldog is simply magnificent. In Viennese dialect, “Wie das Herrl, so das Gscherl” (“Like master, like dog”).
Now there’s a genuine highlight of the exhibition which I’d like to recommend warmly to everyone. And let me end with a little tip: Every Monday, tickets are half off (just 5 euros!). Then you can feel free to treat yourself to a good coffee in the Kunsthaus’s beautiful outdoor dining area. 🙂
Copyright: © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos