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Helen Levitt


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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Helen Levitt

I was flipping through a new Helen Levitt Book at The Strand yesterday and fell in love with this photo.

So poetic, so New York - those shimmery, fragile perfections hanging out over the open dangerous street just out of reach of these young hands.

I find it beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Comments on "Helen Levitt"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:33 AM) : 

it's good to escape from this fashion concious world. Please introduce us more great photographer/ photos!
I equally love fashion and photo, so i come here for your photo too.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:44 AM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:03 AM) : 

I saw an exhibition of hers in Paris some months ago, but this one is new to me. That street looks like a dividing river.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:29 AM) : 

Thanks for the introduction to this fabulous photographer. Here is a website of her photos and others.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:48 AM) : 

Amazing picture. This totally empty 'sleek' street looks pretty eerie, the same the wall, which in addition reminds of some kind of a ghetto barrier... Thrilling.

ps. Can someone tell me what are these 'bubbles' on the wall, please?


Blogger Sabrina said ... (10:41 AM) : 

So powerful. Thanks for sharing this amazing photo with us! I'm off to look at more of this photographer's work.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:47 AM) : 

those aren't bubbles on the wall, they are bubbles in the air! Or spirits floating along with the girls!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:49 AM) : 

Funny. I bought the same book. Yesterday. At the Strand.... Must have been about 6pm.... I don't think i saw you there, though.

Haven't gone through the book yet. I'm 'saving' it for when i have a nice stretch of peaceful time.

It's too bad photographers like Levitt get so little attention, relative to certain other photographers from a similar period. Levitt's photographs have so much more warmth and humanity....


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:43 PM) : 

Gee, thanks anonymous 11:47. These are soap bubbles, of course!
(I don't know how could I've seen them as things/objects ATTACHED on the wall. Good grief ;)


Blogger Kanani said ... (12:57 PM) : 

Ah, this photo... yes it is poetic isn't it?

For the past few years, I've also been collecting the books of photographer Laura Wilson. I love her book Watt Matthews of Lambshead. Also, each year when I go to Yosemite I end up with another Ansel Adams print. I make the excuse that I'm buying them for my kids to inherit! Yes, there are reasons I have not much money.... and art is one of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:00 PM) : 

'Life is fragile and absurd....'

This is a really beautiful, touching picture...

Ruby -x-

*Fashion, Celeb, News & Fiction*
'where the catwalk got its claws'


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:36 PM) : 

This little aside from all the fashion is why you are so cool and why your blog and fotos are so interesting and inspiring.

Switching gears for a second: the discussion about the long flared jeans is pretty lame compared with the serious nature of a foto like this. But we are in the era of the 9 zillion dollar jeans so I take it "cum granus salus" . However, jumping into the fray(ed hem) and after much deep thought on the topic, I have concluded that the only jeans that are actually really cool are the original 501s that you buy all stiff and hard and wear until they are falling apart and stringy. Otherwise, I believe it's not really sartorially ok. Unfortunately I'm short and old and when you're short and old the most imortant thing is not to look foolish and jejeune or mutton as lamb or whatever terrible fashion faux pas that might mean a loss of dignity. Doug- the dude from Ralph Lauren- has got it right.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:10 PM) : 

thats a pretty famous photo


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:43 PM) : 

I wonder, Sart, if you're a fan of Roy DeCarava- It just doesn't get much better.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:14 PM) : 

5 bubbles, 5 children. if that wasn't planned as some type of analogy/metaphor, that's pretty lucky for a shot.


Blogger bridal fashion by MILLIE said ... (4:25 PM) : 

This is the type of photographer I dream of being someday.....

Can you image having your work stolen from you????

"Instant karmas gonna get you"
John Lennon


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:28 PM) : 

What a photograph! B/W in all its splendor, beautiful and poignant.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:03 AM) : 

Golden... and haunting: beautiful image-- eerie, calm, urgent, and so surreal, like a painting; like the painting "Melancholy and Mystery of a Street" by Giorgio de Chirico. Thank you for sharing.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:35 AM) : 

Really lovely.



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:33 AM) : 

This picture evokes all that is great about America, yet without a uttering a single word, it evokes all that is so sad about America!


Blogger Paul Pincus said ... (1:39 PM) : 

An American original.

Jan. 17, 2002 -- Helen Levitt takes you up four flights of stairs in her Greenwich Village brownstone, to the small apartment where she's lived for the past 35 years or so. Levitt is 88 years old now, and her companion is a yellow tabby named Binky.

Her apartment is Spartan -- there's a tiny galley kitchen, and the furniture is spare and worn. On one wall, there's a photo clipped from a magazine long ago, showing a mother gorilla dangling her baby.

But there are none of her own pictures -- the lyric New York street scenes that she's best known for.

"I know what they look like, I don't want to look at them all the time," she told NPR's Melissa Block, co-host for All Things Considered.

Helen Levitt is considered "a photographer's photographer" -- little known by the public, but revered by fellow photographers. She has never sought fame, and she's intensely private. She doesn't enjoy talking about her life, and doesn't find it terribly interesting.

At age 88, Levitt still takes pictures -- lately, of farm animals, up in the country. In her apartment, there are stacks of boxes of prints. One box is labeled "nothing good". Another is marked: "Here and There."

- NPR's All Things Considered


Blogger junglesiren said ... (7:07 PM) : 

Ms. Levitt is one of my artistic heroes. Someone mentioned De Carava - another hero.

One thing in particular I like in this picture is the attitude of the girl far left. It looks like she's got a future as a runway model. Check out that posture. That child is damn near voguing.

Helen Levitt developed a lens that was turned at a 45 degree angle so that she could be facing east and take a photo of something south (or north) of her. That way her subjects were unaware that they were being shot and, subsequently, totally unselfconscious.

She was particularly great at capturing kids being kids. Her photos really speak to the nature of human kind, I think. Especially when you see the little boys being so violent in their play and the care with which even the most poverty stricken women take in thier make-up and clothing (as in her Mexico shots).

She's a no-nonsense lady in a nonsensical world. An artist just for the sake of doing what she's compelled to do.

Thanks Sart. Very thoughtful of you to include this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:50 PM) : 

I've always loved that Levitt--no one I like your taste so much!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:17 PM) : 

I like looking at photos like this; it's like peeking at a frozen, vanished moment in time.


Blogger andy bandini said ... (1:38 AM) : 

its a beautiful photograph. i love the girl on the left, her rail thin frame supported by that skinny arm.

who did she grow into?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:14 AM) : 

oy. someone feeling a little sentimental today?


Blogger Papier Girl said ... (11:43 AM) : 

Yes it is beautiful--but why is it tragic? Can you give a little more on the narrative behind this photo--so I can understand why there's tragedy attached to it? Thanks!


Blogger Lucky said ... (5:41 PM) : 

This is stunning


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:50 PM) : 

Your site does such a great job of finding real beauty - the clothes never upstage the person in your photographs.

In this way, this photo reminds me of yours - it's about a lot of things, but one of them is the way the very different body types here are shown to be so beautiful, en masse and individually.


Blogger Teresa @ good-grace said ... (2:36 PM) : 

Oh my... thank you for sharing!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:47 PM) : 

This is such a gorgeous photos. The little girls all remind me of someone I know which makes it so much more personal. Gorgeous!


Blogger Amanda said ... (2:10 PM) : 

for some strange reason i started to cry when i saw this photo .


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:18 PM) : 

this photo brought me to tears, but in the most beautiful way...if only more of the world could experience this.


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