A friend just contacted me. He's thinking of adding an Elliott Erwitt print to his small but high-quality photograph collection (I know he's smiling at that description, since he owns a couple of my prints), and he wanted my input as to which ones are my favorites.
Lord, that's like asking me what's my favorite breath of air. Some are better than others, but I like them all. "Favorite Erwitt" is redundant!
I ended up telling him that if it were me, I'd probably buy a dog print. I have as much affection for Erwitt's dog pictures as Erwitt has for dogs. My sentimental favorite is probably the one of the little white dog jumping up in the air next to the legs of a splay-footed man in a raincoat, because I have a hazy memory that the man is actually Erwitt himself. I also really like the bulldog-in-the-lap picture. But then, once I start thinking of Erwitt's dogs, it becomes a mental parade that's not easily extinguished. What about the big old Airedale with the stick in his mouth? The dog on the rooftop?
The only ones I might avoid would be the photojournalist pictures that are now celebrity pictures, like JFK, Jackie, and so forth, only because celebrity pictures seem a bit obvious as purchases and they miss the special whimsical humor that's so characteristic of Erwitt. (Besides, if I were going to buy a picture of JFK, I'd see if I could buy one of Jacques Lowe's.)
One thing I really agree with is that an Erwitt picture would be a lovely thing to have around the house and look at every day. I applaud my friend's decision.
So let me pass along the question. If you had to choose only one, which one of all his prints would you choose to own?
Mike (Thanks to Steve R. and Kim K.)
ADDENDUM: Can't decide?
Featured Comment by Stephen Gillette:
- (Kind permission to manipulate granted by Alec Soth.)