Helen Levitt’s striking documentary photography forms a love letter to her home turf, New York city and its vibrant communities.
Street photographer Helen Levitt (1913-2009) was known for her enigmatic images documenting New York’s poorest communities against a backdrop of depression and war. Her work is full of everyday people, places and things with an added element of theatrical finesse. The exhibition displays 130 of her photographs taken over 50 years (between the 1930s-1990s) primarily on the Lower East Side, in the Bronx and Spanish Harlem. A unique portrait of New York street life over a turbulent period of history, they provide a powerful political and social commentary, capturing the desolation of American life for New York’s poorest residents.
Helen Levitt was also one of the first photographers to exhibit colour in her work in 1974, and the exhibition explores how using colour helped to evolve her graphic language. Portraits of subway passengers, photos of early chalk drawings, vivid colour photography, plus collaborations in documentary films, and even her only set of photographs taken outside of New York (in Mexico City) will be on display, bringing together key works from the artist’s lifetime.