Posts Tagged ‘kids playing in street’

The candid street photography of Helen Levitt

March 9, 2011

Born in Bensonhurst in 1913, Helen Levitt spent seven decades capturing images of poor and working-class New Yorkers going about life’s unheralded rituals—working, eating, and observing.

And in the case of children, playing. “Levitt’s photographs of Harlem and the Lower East Side, primarily from the late 1930s through mid-1940s, were among the first to expose the inner lives of children, worlds that had only recently surfaced in American art through the spread of psychoanalysis and surrealism,” wrote Richard B. Woodward in the Wall Street Journal in 2009, shortly after her death.

“Her boys and girls immerse themselves in their roles as gangster, diva, street-corner dandy, wise guy, or holy terror with utter conviction.”

In later decades, Levitt worked in color, creating perceptive and tender portraits of ordinary people against the backdrop of a city in decline.

Publicity shy and notorious for rarely giving interviews, she lived alone in a walkup near Union Square for almost 50 years, until she died at age 95.

Her street-theater photos of New York caught off guard have been collected in many books, including the magical Slide Show, published in 2005.