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by Barrett White
A creative mind can spark a unique view of the world, which is how Martin Elkort came to fame for his photography in the 1940s and 1950s. Elkort’s work is being showcased at the Catherine Couturier Gallery for a limited engagement, along with a screening of a documentary about his life and work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).
Today, Elkort is 85 and resides in Los Angeles, California. Elkort is a renowned photographer known for his street photography of the post-Depression Era streets of New York City. His photographs are some of the first to capture the candid reality of everyday people, rather than posed models in front of a backdrop or on-site photography location.
Elkort’s black-and-white photographs of such areas as the Coney Island Amusement Park, the New York garment district, and Lower East Side shops give a glimpse into the innocent and often touching lives of those residing in New York during a time of relief and optimism.
After 12 years of creating award-winning biographies and tribute videos for her distinguished clientele, Elkort’s daughter, Stefani Twyford of Legacy Multimedia, decided it was time to turn her lens on her own family.
“My father was part of a shift in American photography that gave rise to a close observation of human interaction now known as street photography,” Twyford says. “I wanted to profile his unique body of work and hopefully give a greater understanding of his and his peers’ influence on modern photography.”
Martin Elkort: An American Mirror is an intimate look into the vision of Martin Elkort as he shares stories from his history behind the viewfinder, as well as other major events that changed the nation. This 55-minute film features many of Elkort’s famed photographs, both vintage and contemporary, along with insights from highly respected museum curators Anne Wilkes Tucker and Catherine Evans, and gallery owner Catherine Couturier, providing fascinating historical context and artistic commentary.
“Through his photographs, Martin Elkort shows us a postwar New York full of optimism and innocence,” Couturier says. “Our show at Catherine Couturier Gallery coupled with the premiere of the documentary will give us a glimpse of that age through the lens of a Photo League member who had a fascination and fondness for his subject matter.”
Marion Luntz, curator of film and video at MFAH, offers, “We are delighted to have American Mirror premiering at the museum. This screening is part of our year-round film programming, during which we often feature independent filmmakers presenting their work. Martin Elkort’s photographs are included in our permanent collection, and this insightful film encourages a fuller appreciation of his artistic vision.”
Martin Elkort Photography Exhibit
Catherine Couturier Gallery
2635 Colquitt Street, Houston, Texas 77098
Through May 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Tuesday through Saturday only)
Documentary Film Screening: Martin Elkort: An American Mirror
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet Street, Houston, Texas 77005
Sunday, May 18, 5 p.m.
Tickets are $9 with a $2 discount for MFAH members.
Tickets can be pre-purchased online.