Description

Erwitt first went to Cuba in 1964 in the wake of the revolution. He arrived in Havana with a Canadian film crew ‘not so much to photograph Cuba but to photograph the leaders who had recently overturned the government’. He captured Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in repose, smoking and joking, and out on the streets swaggering like rock stars in front of adoring crowds.Castro, says Erwitt, ‘was quite flexible and quite friendly. Che was a little bit more reserved.’ Guevara gave him a box of cigars. ‘I did not bring them to the States because it was against the rules. That’s my big regret.’

 

Pictures have to do with heart and mind and eye and they have to communicate and as long as they do that, it’s valid.

Elliott Erwitt
© Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos

Born in Paris in 1928 to Russian parents, Elliott Erwitt spent his childhood in Milan, then emigrated to the US, via France, with his family in 1939. As a teenager living in Hollywood, he developed an interest in photography and worked in a commercial darkroom before experimenting with at Los Angeles City College.

In 1948, he moved to New York and exchanged janitorial work for film classes at the New School for Social Research. Five years later, Erwitt joined Magnum Photos and worked as a freelance photographer for Collier’s, Look, LIFE, Holiday and other luminaries in that golden period for illustrated magazines.

He has made significant bodies of work in America, Cuba, the UK, France, Italy and beyond. In the 1970s, he produced several notable documentaries and in the 1980s eighteen comedy films for HBO.

Erwitt has become known for benevolent irony, and for a humanistic sensibility traditional to the spirit of Magnum.

© Elliott Erwitt | Magnum Photos

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