Publication Date: April 1, 2008
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“If ever anyone was born to be a photographer, Helen Levitt was. Looking at these pictures triggers that tingling feeling you get from photographs by artists like Lartigue, Kertész, and Cartier-Bresson: a feeling that the camera is less an expertly operated tool than the seamless extension of a mind and body that are preternaturally alert to the world.”
—The New York Times
"Levitt’s photographs, like her city, though occasionally they rise to beauty, are mostly too quick for it. Instead, they have the quality of frozen street-corner conversation: she went out, saw something wonderful, came home to tell you all about it, and then, frustrated, said, ‘You had to be there,’ and you realize, looking at the picture, that you were.”
—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
Helen Levitt, the visual poet laureate of New York City, published her magnum opus Crosstown in 2001 to great acclaim. The book immediately sold out, never to be reprinted, making it a classic volume of street photography for the cognoscenti. Levitt went on to author two smaller volumes, Here and There and Slide Show, her first monograph exclusively featuring her little-known color work, which have garnered her accolades from around the globe. Most recently, she was named the 2008 recipient of the SPECTRUM International Prize for Photography of the Foundation of Lower Saxony, an honor previously bestowed on such luminaries as Robert Adams and Sophie Calle. Her final book: Helen Levitt, was released in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition at Germany’s Sprengel Museum Hannover, the exhibit included her most iconic works, intermixed with never-before-seen color work. Combining seven decades of New York City street life with her seminal work in Mexico City, Helen Levitt's self-titled compilation features the master works of an incomparable career.
Helen Levitt (1913-2009) had her first solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1943. Levitt’s photographs appeared in Edward Steichen’s landmark 1955 show The Family of Man and in more recent exhibitions of great importance, including MoMA’s Photography Until Now and the National Gallery of Art’s On the Art of Fixing a Shadow in Washington, D.C., both celebrating the invention of photography. She has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Levitt’s reputation as New York City’s master street photographer was further cemented in 2001 when her photographs were featured in the opening sequence of Ken Burns’ acclaimed PBS documentary series, New York. The author of the critically acclaimed, best-selling monographs Crosstown, Here and There, and Slide Show (powerHouse Books, 2001, 2004, and 2005), Levitt lived and worked in New York City, naturally.
Walker Evans (1903-1975) is one of history’s most celebrated photographers. Best known for his Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration, Evans is responsible for some of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, having created a documentary style whose influence continues to be felt. Born in 1903 in St. Louis, Missouri, he briefly studied literature before falling in with the New York art scene and taking up photography in the early 1930s. Over the next several decades he traveled across America on assignment and on his own, creating such venerated series as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Many Are Called (both of which were published alongside essays by James Agee). His work was widely exhibited, and he served on the staff of Time and Fortune as a photographer, writer, and editor. In 1965 he became a professor of Photography and Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art and Architecture, a position he maintained until his death in 1975.