It’s got to be up there with my favourite ever exhibitions. And high up there, not just hanging somewhere mid-list.
2012: the photographer Elliott Erwitt is exhibiting some of his more influential works at La Casa dei Trei Oci, Venice. What’s not to like?
The venue is stunning: a beautiful neo-gothic palace, located on the waterfront on Giudecca, a stone’s throw from the entrance to the Belmond Hotel Cipriani, and with a view across the Giudecca Canal to Dorsoduro and Piazza San Marco and the Campanile beyond.
April: the day is overcast; a fine drizzle almost indistinguishable from the white mist, which hangs over the lagoon. A day to be indoors.
I’m familiar with Erwitt’s work. Not so familiar that I am at the stage of hunting out rare obscurities; just sufficiently familiar to experience the pleasant rise of recognition when I come face-to-face with an image I know.
Humans with dog’s faces; dogs with human bodies; little dogs next to big dogs’ legs: I am happy to share the absurd humour. Sixties celebrity icons from black and white newsreels: I am content to name-check the famous faces. Marilyn; Fidel; Dickie N; Jacky O.
The exhibition is an ideal size: large enough to feel comprehensive––and, most crucially, value for money––small enough not to become boring. It is quiet too: for most tourists, the Giudecca Canal proves to be a vaporetto too far.