Friday, December 14, 2007

Helen Levitt is My Hero

New York, circa 1940, © Helen Levitt. Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery and/or powerHouse Books

You can view her work here and here and lots of other places. You can see a listing of her books on Amazon. Crosstown is a beautiful book. As "stuff" goes it's a pretty wonderful possession.

Here's what Wiki has to say about her:

Helen Levitt (born 31 August 1913) is an American documentary photographer.

Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Dropping out of school, she taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. While teaching some classes in art to children in 1937, Levitt became intrigued with the transitory chalk drawings that were part of the New York children's street culture of the time. She purchased a Leica camera and began to photograph these works as well as the children who made them. The resulting photographs appeared, to great acclaim, in 1987 as In The Street: chalk drawings and messages, New York City 1938–1948. Named as one of the "100 best photo-books", first-editions are now highly collectable.

She studied with Walker Evans 1938 and 1939. In 1943 Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art curated her first solo exhibition, after which she began to find press work as a documentary photographer. In the late 1940s she briefly became a film director, working with James Agee, with whom she shot the short art film In the Street. In 1959 and 1960, she received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to take colour photographs on the streets of New York but much of this work was stolen in a burglary. The remaining photos, and others taken in the following years, can be seen in the book Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt (May 2005). Her first major book was A Way of Seeing (1965). In 1976 she was a Photography Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has remained active as a photographer for nearly 70 years and still lives in New York City. New York's "visual poet laureate" is notoriously private and publicity shy.
(Helen Levitt, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Helen Levitt is my hero.

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