The premiere of Elliott Erwitt Paris Exhibition took place yesterday September 22nd, 2015 at the Leica Gallery in Vienna (Austria), located at Walfischgasse, 1.
It was an unforgettable event attended by around 450 guests arrived from Austria, different European countries and other continents, who relished the unique experience of watching live iconic black and white pictures made by Elliott Erwitt, as well as being witnesses of a thrilling introduction ceremony with speeches by Peter Coeln (director and owner of Westlicht Schauplatz für Fotografie Gallery and Museum and Ostlicht Gallery) and Okky Offerhaus (a prominent Dutch photographer who was Elliott Erwitt´s assistant during the first half of sixties, travelling with him worldwide while doing his assignments) who elaborated on the photographic trajectory of the legendary American photographer — one of the foremost users of Leica rangefinder cameras ever and member of Magnum Agency since 1953 — and presented two books: the new edition of Elliott Erwitt´s Paris published by teNeues and Okky Offerhaus´s EE & OO: " ... but a plastic rose is forever ... " published by Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz.
The introduction speeches by Peter Coeln and Okky Offerhaus brought about great levels of expectation among the audience of hundreds of people who overcrowded the facilities of the Leica Galerie Wien,
and two books were presented: the new edition of Elliott Erwitt´s Paris published by teNeues and Okky Offerhaus´s EE & OO: " ... but a plastic rose is forever ... " published by Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz. Here we can see Peter Coeln holding Okky Offerhaus book in his hand and speaking about this amazing work which is a real trove for any lover of classical black and white photography and particularly for the enthusiasts of Elliott Erwitt and the golden age of photojournalism, since it contains a comprehensive assortment of pictures of the great Magnum photographer made by Okky Offerhaus during sixties and a lot of anecdotes and exceedingly interesting information on different photo stories fulfilled by Erwitt in Brazil, United States, Jamaica, Ireland, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Poland, England, Italy, Hungary, etc.
Okky Offerhaus during her laudatio of Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt. The Dutch photojournalist (who was Elliott Erwitt´s assistant for some years) enthralled the audience with her elegance, humbleness and discretion. Originally it was slated the laudatio by Prof. Erich Lessing (also a great Magnum photographer, who was invited to join it in 1951 by David Seymour "Chim" and became a full member in 1955), who finally couldn´t attend the event, so Okky Offerhaus made a short speech.
The insight on both the personality and photographic work of the Magnum photojournalist displayed by Okky Offerhaus was truly stunning, and in spite of the many years elapsed she is able to thoroughly remember every detail.
The painstaking level of attention offered by the Wien Leica Galerie and Store highly knowledgeable and experienced professionals like Ferenz Vizi, Matthias Thoelen and Jiayu Chen to the attendees of the Elliott Erwitt´s Paris exhibition premiere was praiseworthy.
Here we can see Jiayu Chen (a remarkable Leica expert featuring a deep knowledge on all kind of Leica gear and optical designs not only from Leica but also from other brands) working on the ground floor a few minutes before the beginning of the event on September 22, 2015 at 19:00 h.
China (a country in which Elliot Erwitt made two great reportages in 1978 and 1986 (focused in Shanghai, Beijing, Macao, Kunming -Yunnan- and Xian areas) has become a power in terms of know-how on Leica cameras, lenses and accessories, enhanced by outstanding Chinese photographers like Wang Fuchun, Fan Ho, Jin Huang, Lu Nan, Ethan Chiang, Daniel Shu-Sum Chung and collectors like Henry Chau, Tian Zhili, Barry Lam, Daniel Chung Shu-sum, Wang Guosheng, Yang Liwei and others.
Another of the highlights of the event: the message sent from New York through videoconference by Elliott Erwitt to the attendees of the opening day of his Paris exhibition at the Vienna Leica Gallery, oozing his unique cryptic and warm-hearted humour.
Okky Offerhaus talking to Christine de Grancy and Josef Polleross inside the Leica Galerie Wien some minutes after the presentation ceremony of Elliot Erwitt´s Paris Exhibition.
The iconic photograph of the Eiffel Tower made by Elliott Erwitt during the celebration of the Seine city centenary in 1989 was one of the highlights of the day and hundreds of attendees could admire this masterpiece printed on baryta paper from a very short distance.
The Elliot Erwitt´s Paris exhibition makes up a major landmark in the History of Photography and encompasses black and white images created by the photographer between 1949 and 2009, nothing less than 60 years, in which he captured the magic of the French capital with his typical great attention paid even to the smallest details, his optimistic vision of human existence, his extraordinary sight, an unutterable mental quickness
and a great sense of humor and irony, so his images are truly unique and manage to reach the observer once and again.
The b & w images made by Elliott Erwitt, one of the greatest masters of documentary photography ever, raised a remarkable interest among the audience attending to the premiere of Paris exhibition at the Leica Galerie Wien on September 22, 2015,
and they painstakingly watched the pictures got by the Magnum photographer throughout six decades of visits to the French capital.
Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Elliott Erwitt Using a Bronica S Medium Format Camera with Nikkor-H 50 mm f/3.5 Lens Photographed by Okky Offerhaus in Jamayca in 1964