Helen Levitt

American, 1913—2009

About

Helen Levitt

American, 1913—2009


For sixty years, Helen Levitt captured the fleeting moments of lyricism and quiet drama that played out in the streets of New York City’s working-class neighborhoods. Levitt began her photography career when she was 18, assisting in a portrait studio in the Bronx, and dedicated the rest of her life to creating an urban portrait of the men, women and children of Harlem and the neighborhoods around her. She had an eye for vignettes, and is best-known for her wonderfully candid images of children’s street culture during the 1930s and 1940s. From 1938—41, Helen Levitt worked with Walker Evans on a series in the New York subways, and made documentary films with James Agee (In the Street) and Janice Loeb (The Quiet One) in 1948. She continued to work in film until 1960, when Levitt received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to explore color photography, and she returned to photographing the streets of New York as one of the first notable photographers to work in color. Levitt’s first major museum exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943, and her first major monograph, A Way of Seeing, was published in 1965. Many monographs of her work have published since then.