The exhibition

“Elliott Erwitt - Personae” is the first major retrospective of the photographer's work both in black and white and in colour. The exhibition, curated by Biba Giacchetti, includes over 120 photographs personally selected by Elliot Erwin himself.

While Erwitt's black-and-white photographs are now icons of photography and are acclaimed wherever they are shown on the international scene, his colour output is virtually unknown.

The exhibition highlights the compositional elegance, the deeply human irony and occasionally even the comic side of this great American photographer's work, all features that make Erwitt a much-loved an inimitable artist who, by no mere coincidence, is often described as "the photographer of the human comedy".

When Erwitt embarked on his career in the 1940s, photography was basically in black and white. Over the years the technique of colour photography began to improve and the press embraced it, forcing photographers to adopt it too, although they continued to work in black and white for their artistic work. Erwitt, too, remained loyal to black and white, using colour for editorial and advertising work ranging from politics and society to architecture, the cinema and fashion.

Decades later, Erwitt conducted an in-depthexploration of these images lasting months, reviewing them with a critical, contemporary eye and producing a collection published for the first time in 2013 with teNeues' volume Kolor.

Thus the retrospective shows how his astonishing sensitivity switches with indifference from colour to black and white, and back again, in total continuity of style and research.

Marilyn Monroe, Che Guevara, Sophia Loren, John Kennedy and Arnold Schwarzenegger are only a few of the numerous celebrities captured by his lens and showcased in the exhibition. Erwitt turns his sharp yet absolutely empathetic gaze on all of them, bringing out the irony and complexity of their daily lives. But then, that is the approach Erwitt adopts towards all of his subjects.

Personae, the title of the exhibition, alludes precisely to his exploration of his subjects' concrete daily lives and, at the same time, to his sense of the mask and the theatre, a sense perceived chiefly in a series of photographs that take an irreverent, ironic look at the world of contemporary art.

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The photographer

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Elliott Erwitt was born on 1928 in Paris to Russian émigré parents. His formative years were spent in Milan. At the age of 10 his family moved back to Paris only to immigrate to New York a year later, then transferring to Los Angeles in 1941. While attending Hollywood High School he worked in a commercial darkroom processing “signed” prints for fans of movie stars.

In 1948 Erwitt met Edward Steichen, Robert Capa and Roy Stryker who liked his photographs and took a personal guiding interest becoming significant mentors. The following year he returned to Europe traveling and photographing in Italy and France thus marking the start of his professional career. Drafted in to the US Army in 1951 he continued taking photographs for various publications totally apart from his military duties while stationed in New Jersey, Germany and France.

In 1953 freshly decommissioned from military service, Erwitt was invited to join Magnum Photos as a member by its founder Capa. In 1968 he became President of the prestigious agency for 3 terms. To date he continues to be one of the leading figures in the competitive field of photography. His journalistic essays, illustrations, and advertisements have been featured in publications around the world for over half a century.

While continuing his work as a photographer, Erwitt began making films in the '70s. His documentaries include BEAUTY KNOWS NO PAIN (1971), RED WHITE AND BLUE GRASS (1973) sponsored with a grant from the American Film Institute, and the awarded THE GLASSMAKERS OF HERAT (1979). He also produced 17 comedies and special satire programs for Home Box Office in the ’80s.

While actively working for magazine, industrial and advertising clients Erwitt devotes all his spare time toward creating books and exhibitions of his work. To date he is the author of nearly 30 photography books.

The venue

Excavations in the courtyard have shown Lecce Castle to date back to the 12th century, but it is best known to the city's visitors and residents as the Castle of Charles V because its current configuration is the product of a renovation scheme commissioned by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 16th century.

The 16th Century Reconstruction of the Castle of Charles V
It was Emperor Charles V who commissioned the renovation of the castle, work getting under way in 1537 and probably being completed by 1553, the year that saw the death of Viceroy Pietro da Toledo whose coat of arms adorns the keystone of the vault in the Hall of Marie d'Enghien. It was only with Charles V that the castle began to symbolise imperial grandeur and to act as a defensive bulwark against enemy action. Under Charles V (1519–56) the city and castle of Lecce were given new fortifications capable of withstanding recent advances in military technology. The castle saw a substantial overhaul of its innermost core, the rebuilding incorporating the existing medieval structure, and was expanded thanks to the construction of an imposing curtain wall linking it to the four powerful bastions of S. Trinità and S. Croce on the city side and of S. Martino and S. Giacomo on the outer side.

The Medieval Castle
The medieval castle was erected by the Normans close to the city walls on the east side of the city as a residence for the Counts of Lecce. Archaeological excavations conducted in recent years suggest that it must have corresponded roughly to the central, rectangular core of the present 16th century castle, its boundary marked by two surviving towers, the "Torre Maestra/Magistra" and "Torre Mozza", to the southeast and northeast. After undergoing considerable renovation, the medieval structures on the north and south sides were incorporated into the 16th century building. What little is left of the curtain wall which must have linked the towers is sufficient to allow us to surmise that it must have passed beneath the inner core of the castle. The only surviving material evidence of the Norman period, when the Counts of Lecce were members of the Hauteville family, is some walling from the second half of the 12th century discovered during a dig in the courtyard. A series of marriages brought Lecce and its territory into the Enghien family and later into the ownership of the Orsini del Balzo who took up residence in the castle to rule the city. Very few traces remain of life in the castle before the age of the Orsini. Surviving documentation only becomes substantial after the death of Marie d'Enghien, Countess of Lecce, and the transfer of the title to her son Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo, acquainting us in some detail both with the ruling family's ties with the castle and with the castle's role in the administration of the principality.




21st april – 9th september 2018
Castello Carlo V - Viale XXV Luglio – 73100 Lecce

Opening hours
April, May, June and September: Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 9.30 am to 9.00 pm
July and August: Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 11.00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from 9.30 am to 9.00 pm
4th, 5th, 12th, 19th, 23rd august and from 1st to 9th september: extraordinary opening up to 24

Last tickets sold one hour before the exhibition closes

All tickets include a tour of the Castle and use of an audio-guide in Italian and English for the exhibition.
Full Price € 10.00
Concessions € 8.00 for Lecce residents, groups of at least 12 people, university students, members of specific agreements.
Special concession € 5.00 for schools and children under the age of 18
Admission free for children under the age of 6; one accompanying person per group; two accompanying teachers per class; disabled visitors and one companion per disabled visitor; journalists with appropriate professional ID; ICOM membership cardholders.

Combo Pack exhibition ticket + guided tour on historic center of Lecce
Italian € 15,00
Foreign language € 20,00

Buy the ticket  Facultative ticket reservation on line: € 1,00 (fee per person)

Guided tours reserved only for groups of a minimum of 10 visitors and a maximum of 25 visitors
Starting at 12 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. Service available in Italian and English
€ 5,00 per person plus the ticket price of the exhibition
For information: phone 333 5452927; @mail and

Phone 0832 246517


Press office

Società Cooperativa Coolclub
Pierpaolo Lala
M. + 39 339 4313397
Antonietta Rosato
M. + 39 340 4722974

Barbara Izzo
T. +39 06 692050220

Download the press release

Download the photos' captions

To download images you can visit the site – sala stampa

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