Helen Levitt

Gallery f5,6 presents an exhibition of colour and black and white photographs of one of the most renowned American photographers and filmmakers of the 20th century: Helen Levitt (born 1913, Brooklyn New York). In 1943 the Museum of Modern Art, New York had Levitt's first exhibition. At Dokumenta X her work was rediscovered in a contemporary context.

Levitt is perhaps best known for her street photography of the 1930′s and 1940′s depicting the Lower East Side and Harlem.

For Levitt the street acts as a stage. Her work should be seen in the context of the 1930′s and it's great interest in the city as a vision for the future. This directly correlates to ideas inhabiting the surrealist thought of the time. Also, Levitt's interest in childhood as a recurring theme is rooted in the surrealistic movement in the period between the world wars.

Helen Levitt's photographs are taken in the poorer areas of New York most of which with a high black or multicultural background. They are not meant to document political, psychological or sociological situations or to expose the represented subject. It's the small moments of social interaction that she is interested in. Levitt was influenced by Cartier Bressons decisive moment, to capture the entirety of life in one single image.

Helen Levitt and Walker Evans were very close. They also worked together on Evan's exhibition and book projects. Beside her work as a photographer she was involved in experimental film projects, for example with Buñuel. With her own films (e.g. The Street 1944, The Quiet One 1946/47) she gained great recognition and several rewards, this work now is considered as the beginning of the independent low budget film. In the 1950s she dedicated herself entirely to photography and soon started to experiment with colour. Twice in a row she was rewarded with the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Helen Levitt is one of todays most extraordinary and important photographers. Her work gives testimony to the signs and mysteries that our real world keeps on bringing forward.

Public collections (amongst Others): Art Institute of Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., International Center of Photography, New York, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Modern Art, New York, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Works from the Artist