EXHIBITION ‘Elliott Erwitt. Retrospective’
The photographer Elliott Erwitt delights in focussing his gift of observation on animals as well as humans – and, especially, on all-too-human situations. In his often humorous photos, he combines irony with insight, lightness with profundity. This comprehensive retrospective presents a highly active and versatile photographer who has also been called the “Woody Allen of photography”.
Elliott Erwitt, the son of Russian immigrants, was born in Paris and grew up in Milan. In 1939 he managed to flee the Nazis via France on the last ship to the USA, and since 1941 he has lived in New York. Throughout decades of work as a highly successful advertising photographer and photojournalist and as the director of documentations and films for television, Erwitt has always also remained an “amateur” – in the sense of its Latin root, meaning “lover” – of photography.
Erwitt, who later became president of the Magnum Photos agency, achieved fame not only for his documentation of the debate between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, which brought him his reputation as the “invisible insider”, but also for his benevolently ironic and affectionate portraits of children, dogs and dog owners, nudists and, not least, museum visitors. (read more)
“Dogs in particular are easy targets. They don’t mind being photographed, they are sympathetic, they are reliable in most parts of the world, and they don’t ask for prints.” Elliott Erwitt talking about the exhibition and more at Kunsthaus Wien:
Nixon, the junior U.S. senator from California, ran a campaign of attacking government corruption. In September 1952, journalists became aware of a special fund raised by Nixon supporters to reimburse him for travel, postage and political expenses. While such funds were not illegal in 1952, opponents quickly charged Nixon with giving special favors to contributors.
To avoid being dropped from the GOP ticket, Nixon stopped campaigning and flew to Los Angeles. During a 30-minute speech, Nixon attacked his opponents, pointed out that he was a man of limited means and asked the audience to contact the Republican National Committee to keep him on the ticket.
Regardless of what happened, Nixon stated that he intended to keep one gift — a black and white dog his daughters had named Checkers.
About 60 million Americans saw or heard the speech. The next morning the Los Angeles Times reported the response:
Sen. Richard M. Nixon rested his case with the American people last night and put the decision on whether he remains GOP Vice-Presidential nominee squarely up to the Republican National Committee.
He ended a dramatic half-hour television-radio address to the nation with a firm pledge to continue fighting…
Hardly had his words rung off the air before the communications facilities of the nation were taxed by people striving to express themselves by telegraph and telephone.
The overwhelming positive response kept Nixon on the ticket and the “Checkers” speech part of American political history. All that 20 years before the Watergate scandal.
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