ExhibitionsHelen Levitt: In the Street
Past Exhibition

Helen Levitt: In the Street

January 10 – July 12, 2015


three children walk out of an apartment building with masks over their faces.

Helen Levitt (American, 1913-2009)
New York, ca. 1940
Gelatin silver print
Collection of the Telfair Museum of Art, gift of Mrs. Robert O. Levitt
© Estate of Helen Levitt

Showcasing the honest, humorous and inventive works of prolific documentary photographer Helen Levitt, this exhibition will feature 30 works by Levitt from the collections of the High and the Telfair Museums (Savannah, Ga.). One of the best-known street photographers of the 20th century, Levitt (American, 1913-2009) documented the everyday dramas of New York City. Working from the 1930s through the 1990s, Levitt roamed the Lower East Side, Spanish Harlem and other urban neighborhoods, capturing the story of city life. Her photographs portray mothers hovering as their children play, pedestrians making their way along busy sidewalks, and neighbors visiting on stoops, among other scenes. Rarely do any of the figures in Levitt’s work, child or adult, engage directly with the photographer or strike a premeditated pose; much more frequently they seem to be occupied completely in their own worlds. Her photographs, first in black and white and later in color, observe people of every age, race and class without attempting to impose social commentary. Sojourns in New Hampshire and Mexico added variety to Levitt’s portfolio, but New York City remained at the heart of her work.

As part of the exhibition, the High will acquire 11 prints by Levitt, a generous gift from Mrs. Robert O. Levitt. These prints mark the first works by Levitt to enter the High’s collection, where they will strengthen the Museum’s significant holdings of 20th-century documentary and street photography.