Detail View: The AMICA Library: New York

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Name: 
Levitt, Helen
Creator Nationality: 
North American; American
Creator Role: 
Creator Dates/Places: 
Helen Levitt American, 1918-Born in New York City, Helen Levitt is a documentary photographer known for her images of urban street life. She began her career in the mid-1930s, inspired by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans. In 1936 she purchased a 35mm Leica (the same type of camera used by Cartier-Bresson) and by the following year was photographing people on the streets of New York, particularly children in the city's poor and working-class neighborhoods. From 1938-41 Levitt worked withEvans on a series made in New York's subways, and in July 1939 her first published image appeared in Fortune magazine. By the early 1940s her photographs were also being reproduced in U.S. Camera, PM's Weekly, Minicam, and Harper's Bazaar. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, featured her images of children in a one-person show in 1943 and three years later awarded her a photography fellowship. In the 1940s Levitt also became involved with film, assisting director Luis Buñuel in editing documentary footageand working as an assistant editor in the Film Division of the Office of War Information (1944-45). Encouraged by writer James Agee, Levitt began directing films in the late 1940s. She worked with Janice Loeb and Sidney Meyers in 1949 on The Quiet One, afeature-length documentary about a home for delinquent boys, and in 1951 made In the Street with Agee and Loeb. During the 1950s she concentrated primarily on film, producing very little still photography. In 1959-60 Levitt was awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to explore color photography and began shooting 35mm color slides of street scenes and children. Her color slides were included in a three-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1963, and in 1974 hercolor images were featured in a solo exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Levitt's work was included in numerous one-person exhibitions throughout the 1970s-80s, and in 1992 was the subject of a major retrospective organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Levitt lives in New York. M.M.
Creator Birth Place: 
New York, NY
Creator Name-CRT: 
Helen Levitt
New York
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
c. 1942
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
gelatin silver print
Classification Term: 
Image: 11.3cm x 17.3cm
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
John L. Severance Fund
Written in pencil on verso: "Helen Levitt [signed]/*"
Copyright ? 1942 Helen Levitt
Helen Levitt's long and distinguished career reflects her ability to create lyrical compositions from the commonplace events of New York street life. Her black-and-white work from the 1940s depicts life in working-class and slum neighborhoods, revealingmoments of joy, sadness, reverie, tenderness, work, and play. Her casual, non-intrusive style is evident in this example. With remarkable intuition and technical skill, she created an evocative image that is neither idealizing nor cynical, but simply reveals the love between mother and child.
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