Think of Elliott Erwitt, and the iconographic image that probably comes to mind is his photograph of a small, anxious chihuahua dwarfed by the boots of his owner and the colossal front feet and legs of a Great Dane.
While the observant and eclectic eye of Erwitt (one of the last surviving photojournalists of that Golden Age of photojournalism) has often explored life at its most humorous, leading critics to label him as photography’s greatest comic, one has only to turn to another famous image to see a completely different side of Erwitt. At her husband’s funeral, Jacqueline Kennedy clutches the flag that draped his coffin to her chest as Bobby Kennedy looks on. Despite the black veil behind which she retreated to preserve a fragment of her privacy, Erwitt collides head on with the poignancy of a woman so lost in grief and confusion that the intimacy of the pain he captures pierces the viewer to the core.
It was one of the most memorable records of America’s national ordeal, not only Erwitt’s only memorable funeral image: earlier he had portrayed Robert Capa’s mother weeping over his grave.