130 Iconic Works of Helen Levitt Street Photographer in Albertina

Thursday, October 11, 2018
130 Iconic Works of Helen Levitt Street Photographer in Albertina

Helen Levitt was a revolutionary in her color photographs. As early as 1959, she began working in color as a means of artistic expression, thus numbering among the earliest representatives of New Color Photography.

Image: Helen Levitt, New York, 1980

 

Helen Levitt (1913–2009) numbers among the foremost exponents of street photography. It was in the 1930s that this passionate observer and chronicler of New York street life first began taking pictures of the inhabitants of poorer neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Harlem. And with her eye for the surreal and for ironic details, she was to spend many further decades immortalizing everyday people in dynamic compositions: children at play, passersby striking a pose, couples conversing. Levitt’s unsentimental pictorial language gives rise to a humorous and theatrical pageant situated beyond any moral or social documentary clichés.

 

Helen Levitt

 

The Albertina is featuring this American photographer in a retrospective that brings together around 130 of her iconic works. These range from her early, surrealism-influenced photographs of chalk drawings to her 1941 photos from Mexico and the clandestinely shot portraits of New York subway passengers that Walker Evans encouraged her to do in 1938.

 

Helen Levitt, New York, 1940

Helen Levitt, New York, 1940

Helen Levitt was also a revolutionary in her color photographs. As early as 1959, she began working in color as a means of artistic expression, thus numbering among the earliest representatives of New Color Photography. And in 1974, Levitt became the first color photographer to be given an exhibition by New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

 

Helen Levitt, New York, 1973

Helen Levitt, New York, 1980

 

On view from 12 October 2018 until 27 January 2019.

 

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