New York City, 1974 (dog legs)

1974, Printed Later
Silver Gelatin Photograph
30
x
40
in

Signed in ink on recto. Signed, titled and dated in pencil on verso.


On one occasion for an advertisement for boots, Elliott Erwitt used a Great Dane and a Chihuahua hired from an agency. Dogs were ideal for shoe advertisements because they would often take a person’s eye down to foot level. In the renowned image “New York City, 1974 (Dog Legs),” perhaps second and third looks are needed to understand the whole picture. The first element noticed is the Chihuahua to the right, wearing a ridiculous little knit beret and looking back at the camera with a look of bewilderment. The dog is so little that the black boots of its owner, to the dog’s right, seem like those of a giant. Finally to the left is Erwitt’s punch line: the relatively enormous paws and legs of a Great Dane. The purpose of almost all of his pictures, with or without dogs, is to elicit commentary. In this case he humorously comments on humans and dogs, big and small.

Erwitt once said: “You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy.”