Monday, March 30, 2009

Helen Levett

The photographer who froze New York street life on film.

The obituary in the New York Times on March 30, 2009 for Helen Levett is impressive and long. She was a native of New York and it looks as if they really loved her and payed homage to her. She was 95.

Ms. Levett was popular for capturing vignettes of New York street scenes. There is a quote from William Butler Yeats in the obit that reads, "Ms. Levitt captured instances of a cinematic and delightfully guileless form of street choreography that held at its heart, the ceremony of innocence."
The obit author, Margret Loke, writes that "the masterpieces in Ms. Levitt's oeuvre are her photographs of children living their zesty, improvised lives. A white girl and a black boy twirl in a dance of their own imagining.

Her best known picture is one of three children who are very well dressed and are getting ready to go trick-or-treating on Halloween in 1939. This picture was included in the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art's photography department.

She photographed Spanish Harlem and the Lower East Side showing an unerring instinct for a street drama's perfect pitch.

Ms. Levitt's major influences included friends Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Shahn and James Agee.

Copyrighted Pictures

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