Personae is the first major retrospective exhibition devoted to Elliott Erwitt and to his photographs in both black-and-white and colour.
His black-and-white shots, which time has consecrated as fully-fledged icons in the history of photography, have attracted praise wherever they have been shown internationally, yet his colour output is virtually unknown. The exhibition sets out to highlight his elegant compositions, his deep humanity, his irony and, at times, even his humour – all features that have turned Erwitt into a much-loved and inimitable artist considered, by no mere coincidence, to be the photographer of the human comoedia.
Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Sophia Loren, John Kennedy and Arnold Schwarzenegger are but a few of the countless celebrities whom he has captured with his lens and their photographs are on display in the exhibition. Erwitt casts a sharp yet invariably empathetic gaze on all of them, causing both a vein of irony and the complexity of daily living to emerge in his work. But then that is the gaze that Erwitt casts on every subject to which he turns his attention.
The title Personae, deliberately reflecting the eighth edition of the Settimana del Buon Vivere or Week of Good Living, alludes precisely to the way in which he shares in the concrete daily life of his subjects, but at the same time to a sense of the theatre, of the theatrical mask, that is such a feature of his entire output, particularly of the photographs which he took under the pseudonym of André S. Solidor. A.S.S. – the acronym is far from coincidental – is the mask that Erwitt devotes without a care for diplomacy to the world of contemporary art and to a certain kind of photography.
Solidor, present in the exhibition also with a video, opens the section devoted to Erwitt's work in colour. When he first embarked on his career in the 1940s, photography was basically still in black and white. The first, unstable reels of colour film had only recently appeared on the market, they cost a fortune and they were not particularly faithful to reality, but more than anything, they were impossible to develop in one's own personal photographic laboratory.
Colour film gradually improved over the years in technical terms and the press began to adopt it and to force photographers to use it, although the photographers themselves continued to resort to black and white for artistic photographs both as a matter of convenience and as their choice of a medium of expression. Erwitt, too, remained loyal to black and white, using colour only for his editorial and advertising work ranging from politics and society to architecture, fashion and the cinema.
Decades later, Erwitt performed a fully-fledged circuit of these pictures, setting out on a journey that lasted months and allowed him to take a critical and contemporary look at his work. This spawned a collection which was published for the first time in 2013 in teNeues' Kolor volume and which is now to be showcased, at long last, with approximately 100 shots personally slected by Erwitt with Biba Giacchetti in his New York studio.
The retrospective sets out to highlight the way in which his exceptional sensitivity switches seamlessly from colour to black and white and back again in perfect continuity of style and research. A member of the historic Magnum agency since 1953, Erwitt tells the story of the last sixty years of contemporary history and of our modern civilisation with the gritty immediacy of a journalist, capturing the most dramatic but also the most amusing aspects of the lives that have passed in front of his lens.
Elliott Erwitt was born on 1928 in Paris to Russian émigré parents. His formative years were spent in Milan. At the age of 10 his family moved back to Paris only to immigrate to New York a year later, then transferring to Los Angeles in 1941. While attending Hollywood High School he worked in a commercial darkroom processing “signed” prints for fans of movie stars.
In 1948 Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker who liked his photographs and took a personal guiding interest becoming significant mentors. The following year he returned to Europe traveling and photographing in Italy and France thus marking the start of his professional career. Drafted in to the US Army in 1951 he continued taking photographs for various publications totally apart from his military duties while stationed in New Jersey, Germany and France.
In 1953 freshly decommissioned from military service, Erwitt was invited to join Magnum Photos as a member by its founder Capa. In 1968 he became President of the prestigious agency for 3 terms. To date he continues to be one of the leading figures in the competitive field of photography. His journalistic essays, illustrations, and advertisements have been featured in publications around the world for over half a century.
While continuing his work as a photographer, Erwitt began making films in the '70s. His documentaries include BEAUTY KNOWS NO PAIN (1971), RED WHITE AND BLUE GRASS (1973) sponsored with a grant from the American Film Institute, and the awarded THE GLASSMAKERS OF HERAT (1979). He also produced 17 comedies and special satire programs for Home Box Office in the ’80s.
While actively working for magazine, industrial and advertising clients Erwitt devotes all his spare time toward creating books and exhibitions of his work. To date he is the author of nearly 30 photography books.
ELLIOT ERWITT: PERSONAE
23rd September 2017 – 7th January 2018
Forlì, Musei San Domenico - Piazza Guido da Montefeltro
Tuesday through Friday 9.30 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
24th and 31st December 9.30 a.m. – 1.30 p.m.
Closed on Monday, 25th and 26th December and 1st January
Ticket office closes one hour before exhibition closing time.
(audioguide and reservation service included)
Standard € 11.00 ticket
Discounted € 9.00 ticket: groups at least 15 people, University students and special agreements ("Romagna Visit Card" holders, FIAF members)
Special discounted ticket € 4.00 for schools and children under 18
Open ticket € 12,00 whenever you wish to enter
Free for children under 6, disable people, people accompanying disabled people, journalists and tourist guides, one leader per group, two accompanying teachers per school class, ICOM members
Special Trenitalia discounts: 2x1 admittance ticket, with one full price train ticket to Bologna with Frecce Trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca) with travel date of max 5 daysbefore visit to the exhibition. Each discount applicable only once. Same discount for holders of CartaFRECCIA; discounted tickets for holders of monthly train tickets within Regione Emilia Romagna or of one standard train ticket to Forlì, for employees of Gruppo FS with identification badge; 10% off bookshop purchases.
Joint ticket also for the visit of the Museums of the City of Forlì (Pinacoteca Civica and Palazzo Romagnoli): € 14.00 standard
(reservation is compulsory for groups of maximum 25 people)
€ 90.00 groups
€ 55.00 schools
€ 110.00 guided tours in foreign languages (English and French)
From abroad +39 02 89096942
*(From Monday to Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.)
How to reach
By car: Motorway A14 from Bologna or Rimini; "Forlì" exit; bear right at the roundabout towards Via Ravegnana; SS 9 (Via Emilia); after the gates, Viale Salinatore; Via Romanello da Forlì. Car parks close to the Church of San Giacomo; Parcheggio Montefeltro (hourly tariff, 200 places); Piazza D. Alighieri (hourly tariff, 72 places); Piazzetta Conserva Corbizzi (long-term, 60 places); Parcheggio dell’Argine in Viale Salinatore (free, 400 places); Duomo (hourly tariff, 120 places); Piazza XX Settembre (hourly tariff, 127 places); Piazza del Carmine (hourly tariff, 120 places); Porta Schiavonia (free, 30 places); Caduti e dispersi in guerra (free, 90 places); Vittime civili di guerra (free, 60 places); Piazza Cavour (hourly tariff, 77 places); Matteucci (hourly tariff, 70 places); For directions to car parks and tariff schemes, consult: http://www.fmi.fc.it/uploads/2014_09_19_15_10_51.pdf
By train: Connected to northern and southern Italy on the Milan-Bologna-Ancona and Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome lines. (www.trenitalia.com); On foot from the railway station: 25 minutes - 2 km; From the Stazione FS railway station walk straight down Viale della Libertà; on reaching Piazzale della Vittoria, turn right into Corso della Repubblica; pass through Piazza Saffi and carry straight on down Corso Garibaldi; turn right into Via Giorgina Saffi; turn right into Via Bombace Pace - you'll see the north wall of the church of San Giacomo at the end of the road on the left-hand side. By bus from the station from/to Piazza Saffi; Minibus 1A-1B, runs every 10 minutes
Friday 22th September at 9.00 p.m.
Meeting Elliott Erwitt
Interview with journalist and photographer Roberto Cotroneo
At Chiesa di San Giacomo - Forlì, Piazza Guido da Montefeltro, 12
Tuesday 14th November, at 8.30 p.m.
Elliott Erwitt Movies
The showing of documentaries directed by Erwitt
at Cinema Saffi d’Essai - Forlì, Viale dell’appenino, 478
Tuesday 12th December at 8.30 p.m.
Elliott Erwitt Movies
The showing of Gimme Shelter-The Rolling Stones docu-film
at Cinema Saffi d’Essai - Forlì, Viale dell’appenino, 478