New York by Helen Levitt
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- Artwork Info
- About the Artist
Gelatin silver print
Signed, titled, and dated, in pencil, au verso
Printed circa 1965
Born and raised in New York, Helen Levitt (American; 1912-2009) made most of her photographs in that city's streets. Her interest in photography began in 1931; she learned darkroom technique while working for a portraitist, and by age sixteen had decided to become a professional photographer. She was especially inspired by the photographs of Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, both of whom became friends.
Following Cartier-Bresson's lead, Levitt bought a 35-millimeter camera and settled on the subject matter she would pursue for the next forty years--community street life, especially the activities of women, children, and animals. In 1939, her images began appearing in magazines such as Fortune, U.S. Camera, Minicam, and PM.
Beaumont and Nancy Newhall mounted Levitt's first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Three years later, Levitt was granted a photography fellowship by the museum.
Levitt's work found devoted advocates in Walker Evans and James Agee, the latter of whom wrote the text for A Way of Seeing (produced in the 1940s, but not published until 1965), a monograph containing many of her best-known images.
In addition to the black-and-white images for which she is known, Levitt became an active color photographer in the 1950s, and her film projects include The Quiet One and In the Street, made with James Agee.
Levitt received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellow; in 1997, she received the International Center of Photography's Master of Photography Infinity Award.
Adapted from: International Center of Photography