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Ex – Erwitt

… look carefully at Erwitt’s image [ see below] and write some notes about how the subject matter is placed within the frame. How has Erwitt structured this image? What do you think the image is ‘saying’? How does the structure contribute to this meaning? (OCA C&N, p98)

Source: holdenluntz.com,
Source: holdenluntz.com, by Elliot Erwitt
  • There is a strong sense of threes in the image: the horizontal scene is split between the foreground, which shows details of the ground and fallen leaves; the mid-ground which is nearly burnt out to white and contrasting with the subjects; and the background hints at the broader setting of a park with trees and sunlight. On the vertical we have three subjects placed in the frame as a group; 3 sets of legs and placed on the second third of the horizontal scene, firmly in the frame.
  • Full shades of monochrome are represented, from white in the background and in contrast to the subjects to the black of the lady’s boots. Giving the sense of a complete image.
  • There are 3 pairs – so within the 3s there is another level of symmetry in 2s.
  • There is a strong depiction of scale – from very large (dog), through standard sized (human), to small dog.
  • The stand-out feature (or punctum if we must) is that the small dog is wearing a hat. This is not usual by most standards.

The image speaks about the companionship between woman and dog and differences among friends. It shows togetherness, while being different. It is topped off by the absurdity of the small dog wearing a hat. The symmetry and balance in form of the composition echo the signs of togetherness I read in the subjects themselves.

One comment

  1. Ali says:

    Perhaps they’re all wearing hats. We can only see the entirety of one participant – that’s what made the image arresting for me- it looks posed (they are stationary, although they appear to be ‘out for a walk’), yet we only get a partial (and unusual) view of 2 of the main subjects.

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