Widely acclaimed, renowned, and beloved American photographer Elliott Erwitt — who had captured more presidents since Harry Truman than any other photographer in his 70-plus year career — has passed away at the age of 95.
His passing was shared by his family through Erwitt’s official Instagram today. His daughter, Sasha Erwitt, confrimed his death to the New York Times.
“We are sad to share that after 95 extraordinary years, Elliott Erwitt has passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family,” the post reads.
Erwitt was born Elio Romano Erwitt in Paris on July 26th, 1928, to Jewish-Russian parents. He spent his childhood in Milan, Italy, then emigrated to the United States with his family in 1939 when he was ten years old. In 1953 he joined Magnum Photos as a freelancer photographer and served as Magnum’s president for three years in the late 1960s.
“I started by seeing other people’s work. The photographer who was most important to me was the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. I saw a catalog from a show that he had at the Museum of Modern Art. Later, I took some courses at City College, Los Angeles, but I can’t say that I got much out of them. It’s not rocket science, photography,” Erwitt tells PetaPixel‘s Phil Mistry in an interview from 2022.
Erwitt enjoyed spontaneity in his work, despite working with a large number of celebrities over his career, from Marilyn Monroe to Nikita Khruschev and Richard Nixon.
“Very often… I would take pictures with just the joy of taking pictures, for no specific reason and no client and just for my interest,” he told PetaPixel.
“You may not even know that you have a good picture unless you take a look. Taking pictures is a response to what you see and what you think you see. And it’s very easy not to respond to the quality of the image you shot until you see it in a different circumstance.”
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of beloved Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt.
He died peacefully at home surrounded by family.
PHOTO: New York, USA. 1999.
© Elliott Erwitt / Magnum Photos pic.twitter.com/Kz83cHSZce
— Magnum Photos (@MagnumPhotos) November 30, 2023
Through his life, Erwitt published more than 20 books and his photos have been featured in collections around the world, many of which are some of the most iconic or famous ever captured of subjects.
Erwitt, who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City for about 60 years, is survived by his daughters Sasha, Amelia, Ellen, and Jennifer, his sons Misha and David, 10 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Image credits: Alessio Jacona, Creative Commons