A veteran photojournalist raids a lifetime's trove of powerful images to illustrate the ticklish subject of how men and women relate to each other—or don't. Erwitt (To the Dogs, not reviewed) explains in an amiably rambling introduction that the impetus for this book came from a chance assignment to do ``photos of couples'' for a Japanese magazine. Looking back over his oeuvre, he found the theme a constant and powerful one. All the pictures, sumptuously reproduced here in black and white, are technically accomplished. Most are pointed, emotionally loaded, and charged with a dry sense of narrative wit. Graphically striking, the book uses left- and right- page image counterposings to ironic effect. Logically, Erwitt opens with shots of children, then moves on to adult lovers, and closes with elderly pairs. A grainy and light-infused 1972 shot from Rio de Janeiro shows a young boy and girl meeting conspiratorially under a tree: He sits atop a tricycle brandishing a toy pistol as she eyes him with gravity—a miniature Bonnie and Clyde. A 1952 photo from Valencia, Spain, shows a young couple seen through a kitchen doorway in a dance-step embrace, their faces obscured, she with her apron on. In Krak¢w, Poland, in 1972, Erwitt captured a middle-aged woman in a garish striped frock offering her hand to be kissed by a drab-looking businessman. Towards the end, aged couples argue in Saint-Tropez, fill a car with gas in Iowa, dance on a Manhattan rooftop. Erwitt presents himself as a voyeur with a purpose, a lensman dedicated to capturing glimpses of our shared, international human condition. From stagy set-up to candid ditty, this selection shows off Erwitt's skills as a master of the modern photographic idiom, one with a clear idea of what he wants his work to say.
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