Elliott Erwitt’s strange and sublime city photos

Paris-born photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt has captured scenes all over the world.

But his New York photos, dating from the 1940s to the 2000s, come off as especially poetic, showcasing the pathos and isolation inherent in modern city life.

[A boy rides the Third Avenue El in this 1955 shot]

They’re also witty, bringing the viewer in on the joke with a focus on the weird and ridiculous—like the two grown men duking it out under an el platform in 1950, or the dog and masked owner on a stoop in 2000.

Here’s what a New York Times reviewer had to say back in May, when a retrospective of Erwitt’s work opened at the International Center of Photography.

“Mr. Erwitt has been a seeker of the ‘decisive moment,’ an instant in real time when people, animals or objects appear before the camera in surprising and illuminating ways. What distinguishes Mr. Erwitt’s work has been his keen eye for the comedy in everyday life.”

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7 Responses to “Elliott Erwitt’s strange and sublime city photos”

  1. Elliott Erwitt's strange and sublime city photos (via Ephemeral New York) « am i? Says:

    [...] ≈ Leave a Comment Paris-born photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt has captured scenes all over the world. But his New York photos, dating from the 1940s to the 2000s, come off as especially poetic, showcasing the pathos and isolation inherent in modern city life. [A boy rides the Third Avenue El in this 1955 shot] They're also witty, bringing the viewer in on the joke with a focus on the weird and ridiculous—like the two grown men duking it out under an el pl … Read More [...]

  2. Lisa Says:

    That’s not a “masked owner”– it’s a second bulldog on her lap (the owner’s possibly masked as well, but we’ll never know since the bulldog obscures her head–).

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Yes, that’s what I meant, masked by another bulldog. I like to think that Erwitt was walking down the street and snapped one quick photo at the exact moment when the dog perfectly obscured the owner’s face.

  4. Lisa Says:

    As usual, guess I was being too literal!

  5. Denise Helms Ferraro Says:

    The two men duking brought back something I saw during my first trip to London in 1978: 2 men just outside the underground,in business suits and bowler hats, duking it out with their umbrellas
    (” I’ll bash you!”). It’s been more than 30 yrs, but I can recall it vividly.

  6. Elliott Erwitt's strange and sublime city photos (via Ephemeral New York) | environments – built and unbuilt Says:

    [...] Elliott Erwitt's strange and sublime city photos (via Ephemeral New York) Posted on August 28, 2011 by ellenbrenna Paris-born photographer and filmmaker Elliott Erwitt has captured scenes all over the world. But his New York photos, dating from the 1940s to the 2000s, come off as especially poetic, showcasing the pathos and isolation inherent in modern city life. [A boy rides the Third Avenue El in this 1955 shot] They're also witty, bringing the viewer in on the joke with a focus on the weird and ridiculous—like the two grown men duking it out under an el pl … Read More [...]

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