Elliott Erwitt enters Leica Hall of Fame with "pictures that touched the world"

Elliott Erwitt LHOF
New York City, 1974 (dog legs) (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

If you love work by some of the masters of photography, then it's certain you have come across the work of Elliott Erwitt. 

From Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, a loving couple in a rear-view mirror, or an elegant leap in front of the Eiffel Tower, portraits of people or dogs – many of Erwitt’s iconic motifs are anchored in the annals of photographic history, and have made the 95-year-old a living legend. His incomparable pictorial humor brings delight around the world.

• Where does Erwitt rank among the best photographers ever?

As part of the Celebration of Photography, Leica Camera has honored the renowned Magnum photographer with the Leica Hall of Fame Award for his life’s work.

An accompanying exhibition will be on display at the Leica Gallery in Wetzlar, Germany, up until the end of January 2024. But the celebration doesn't stop there, as one of Erwitt’s well-known motifs has also been selected as Leica Picture of the Year.

New York City. 1946. (Chihuahua) (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

New York City, 2000 (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

Erwitt’s images have always had an emotional impact on the viewer, while usually guiding them towards more far-reaching and profound ideological considerations. To be able to capture all this in a single moment, and transfer it into a picture, may well be the secret behind his photography.

“You can find pictures anywhere,” the brilliant storyteller explains in a rather understated manner. “It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy. 

“You only need the humble ability to bring order into a motif, to compose a picture, or to recognize and reflect a certain mood. From time to time, you might produce an image that says something. That’s already enough. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.”

American actress Marilyn Monroe in New York, 1954 (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

The son of Russian migrants, Elliot Erwitt was born in Paris, France, on July 26 1928. Growing up in France and Italy, in 1939 he emigrated to America with his family. There, his interest in photography emerged when he was a teenager living in Hollywood. He began working as a professional photographer in New York in 1948, and in 1953 Robert Capa invited him to become a member of the Magnum Agency, over which Erwitt would preside for a number of terms. 

His career over many decades led him to become one of the best-known and busiest photographers of our times. Starting in 1970, he also began to make films and work for television. Erwitt stepped back from photographic assignments over 20 years ago, and now gives his time to reappraising his life’s work with numerous exhibitions and photo books. 

He lives in New York City, where the new Leica Gallery will also host an exhibition next year to celebrate his Leica Hall of Fame Award.

Umbrella Jump in Paris, France 1989 (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

California, 1955. (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

A limited edition of Erwitt’s pictures will be on offer exclusively through Leica Galleries as the 2023 Picture of the Year. The perfectly symbiotic portrait of a bulldog with his companion sitting behind him was taken in 2000, very close to the photographer’s studio in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. 

Since 2021, Leica Camera AG has granted the Leica Picture of the Year recognition to outstanding Leica photographers who have been inducted into the Leica Hall of Fame. There could be no finer name to join their ranks this year. 

Portrait of Elliott Erwitt (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos)

You might be interested in the best Leica cameras, as well as the best Leica M lenses and best Leica SL lenses

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Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specialising in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound and many more for various advertising campaigns, books and pre/post-event highlights.

He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected in to BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 

He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa and Sinar and has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI and everything in between. His work covers the genres of Equestrian, Landscape, Abstract or Nature and combines nearly two decades of experience to offer exclusive limited-edition prints to the international stage from his film & digital photography.