Home Events Elliott Erwitt is honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award

Elliott Erwitt is honoured with the Leica Hall of Fame Award

USA. New York City. 1999. American photographer Elliott ERWITT.

Leica has recognised the renowned Magnum photographer, Elliott Erwin, with the Leica Hall of Fame Award for his life’s work. An accompanying exhibition will be on display at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar up to the end of January 2024. One of Erwitt’s well-known images has also been selected as Leica Picture of the Year.

Living legend

Marilyn Monroe or Che Guevara, a loving couple in a rearview mirror or an elegant leap in front of the Eiffel Tower, portraits of people or dogs: many of Erwitt’s iconic motifs are anchored in the records of photographic history and have made the 95-year-old a living legend. His incomparable pictorial humour brings delight around the world.

Erwitt’s images have an emotional impact on the viewer, while usually guiding them towards more far-reaching and profound ideological considerations. To be able to capture all this in a single moment and transfer it into a picture, may well be the secret behind his photography.

Photographs courtesy of Leica

Pictures are all around us

As he explains: “You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy”.

“You only need the humble ability to bring order into a motif, compose a picture, or recognise and reflect a certain mood. From time to time, you might produce an image that says something. That’s already enough. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.”

The best examples of his incomparable vision of the world can be seen in the accompanying exhibition at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar. The photographer chose 50 of his favourite motifs, taken over seven decades. Erwitt’s career began in New York in 1948. It received a boost in 1953 when Robert Capa invited him to become a member of the Magnum Agency.

It’s a dog’s life

He was on the move constantly, photographing actors, politicians and celebrities, as well as street scenes, landscapes and urban settings. Furthermore, in addition to numerous commercial assignments, he always found time for his own motifs. Children, couples and dogs were to become his favourite topics. He has captured countless unforgettable moments, with humour, precision and charm. His motifs are direct and entertaining, sensitive and incisive, both American and cosmopolitan.

Photographs courtesy of Leica

The son of Russian emigrants, Elliot Erwitt was born in Paris on 26th July 1928. He grew up in Italy and France. In 1939, he emigrated to America with his family. His interest in photography emerged when he was a teenager living in Hollywood. He began working as a professional photographer in New York in 1948, and in 1953 Robert Capa invited him to become a member of the Magnum Agency.

Erwitt went on to preside over the agency for a number of terms. His career over many decades led him to becoming one of the best known and busiest photographers of our times. Starting in 1970, he also began to make films and work for television. Erwitt stepped back from photographic assignments over twenty years ago and now gives his time to reappraising his life’s work with numerous exhibitions and photo books.

The new Leica Hall of Fame Award winner lives in New York City, where the new Leica Gallery will also host an exhibition next year to celebrate Erwitt’s Leica Hall of Fame Award.

Photographs courtesy of Leica

Leica Picture of the Year

This year, Leica Picture of the Year collectors can look forward to a very special motif by Erwitt. The limited edition print of Bulldogs, which is only available through Leica Galleries, is one of Erwitt’s signature dog pictures. The truism that dogs and their owners often have visual similarities is taken to a curious extreme in this image taken in 2000.

The photographer discovered this perfect symbiosis between dog and owner by chance, while walking around his local neighbourhood. He remembers the moment well: “I had set out from my studio just around the corner on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, taking a walk with my friend Hiroji Kubota, but I wasn’t carrying a camera. I saw this scene and asked him if I could borrow his camera. He kindly handed me his Leica and I used up the whole film.”

By the last picture on the roll, all the compositional and conceptual elements were in the right place and the superimposition of the heads was perfect. The absurdity of the picture was further accentuated when the second bulldog, to the left of the picture, adopted the same pose as the rather surreal-like dog and master pair. With patience and perseverance, Erwitt had once again managed to capture one of his typical images, because, as he says, “Many pictures lead to one good one.”

Since 2021, Leica Camera AG has granted the Leica Picture of the Year recognition to outstanding Leica photographers who have been inducted into the Leica Hall of Fame.

Read about the 2022 Leica Picture of the Year

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  1. Incredible. This man with the dog… Analyzing makes no sense! These extreme strong warm emotions… I don’t know what the secret of this fortographer is…


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