The Ransom Center presents the exhibition Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World from August 15, 2016, to January 1, 2017. Featuring more than 200 photographs, it is the first exhibition drawn from the extensive Elliott Erwitt Photography Collection, acquired by the Ransom Center in 2015. It is the most comprehensive examination of the internationally renowned photographer’s life and work to date.
Elliott Erwitt (American, b. France 1928) is best known for his portraits of cultural figures, whimsical pictures of dogs and humorous portrayals of everyday life. Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World investigates Erwitt’s complex career in unprecedented depth and presents these celebrated works alongside rarely published or exhibited photographs.
Organized by Jessica S. McDonald, the Ransom Center’s Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography, the exhibition examines the development of Erwitt’s unique vision over 70 years. It explores the ways in which Erwitt’s migratory upbringing and itinerant lifestyle are intimately linked with his persistent photographic subjects—the lone figures and the dogs, the women and the children, the crowded beaches, and the lonely streets.
“While highlighting many of Erwitt’s best-known photographs, the exhibition emphasizes threads that only emerge when the collection is considered as a whole,” says McDonald. “There are wonderful surprises in this exhibition, especially for those of us who thought we knew Erwitt’s work.”
In addition to its broad range of photographs, the exhibition presents more than 60 magazines, books and advertisements, as well as highlights of Erwitt’s work in motion pictures and a selection of his contact sheets.
Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World is principally drawn from the Elliott Erwitt Photography Collection, donated to the Ransom Center in 2015 by Caryl and Israel Englander. The collection includes 47,500 vintage and modern black-and-white prints, as well as the corresponding negatives and contact sheets spanning the years 1946 to 2010. Photographs from the Ransom Center’s Magnum Photos Collection and Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Records are also included in the exhibition.
“I hope that my checkered career will encourage some photographers to work in the same spirit that deals with the human condition—while not taking themselves too seriously,” said Elliott Erwitt. “It’s been a long journey but worth all the laughs and tears. And it is all here in Home Around the World for anyone to examine.”
Accompanying the exhibition is the fully illustrated catalogue Elliott Erwitt: Home Around the World, edited by McDonald and co-published with Aperture. An illuminating biographical essay offers new research on the formation and trajectory of Erwitt’s career, while three focused essays address rarely studied aspects of Erwitt’s work, including his very early photographs, his engagement with social and political issues through photojournalism, and his work as a filmmaker.
“In documenting his own visual encounters with the world, Elliott Erwitt has made important contributions to a larger story about our shared experience,” notes Ransom Center Director Stephen Enniss. “The Erwitt collection captures collective events of great historical importance, as well as those quotidian moments that illuminate what it means to be human.”