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.


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  1. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  2. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 8:44 am


  3. yuzublizzard

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  4. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 9:29 am

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

  5. ama

    April 10, 2008 at 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?

  6. Sabrina

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  7. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 11:47 am

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

  8. CK Dexter Haven

    April 10, 2008 at 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….

  9. ama

    April 10, 2008 at 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 ;)

  10. Kanani

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  11. Ruby Divine

    April 10, 2008 at 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’

  12. la sartorialista

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  13. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    thats a pretty famous photo

  14. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 3:43 pm

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

  15. Anonymous

    April 10, 2008 at 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.

  16. Designing MILLIE

    April 10, 2008 at 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

  17. cordelia

    April 10, 2008 at 4:28 pm

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

  18. Anonymous

    April 11, 2008 at 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.

  19. debdeb

    April 11, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Really lovely.


  20. AnonymousJK

    April 11, 2008 at 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!

  21. Paul Pincus

    April 11, 2008 at 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

  22. monique

    April 11, 2008 at 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.

  23. Kate

    April 11, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I’ve always loved that Levitt–no one I like your taste so much!

  24. Janet T

    April 11, 2008 at 11:17 pm

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

  25. andy bandini

    April 12, 2008 at 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?

  26. Anonymous

    April 13, 2008 at 10:14 am

    oy. someone feeling a little sentimental today?

  27. Chubbs

    April 14, 2008 at 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!

  28. Avril Marchegiano

    April 14, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    This is stunning

  29. Anonymous

    April 15, 2008 at 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.

  30. Good-Grace

    April 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Oh my… thank you for sharing!!

  31. Anonymous

    June 3, 2008 at 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!

  32. Amanda

    August 12, 2008 at 2:10 pm

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

  33. Anonymous

    September 27, 2008 at 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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