Travel Ephemera #10: Elliott Erwitt in Venice

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.

elliot erwitt

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.

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