Renowned Street Photographer Helen Levitt Celebrated in 2015 Exhibition at the High
November 5, 2014
ATLANTA, Nov. 5, 2014 – The High Museum of Art will showcase the honest, humorous and inventive works of prolific documentary photographer Helen Levitt in “Helen Levitt: In the Street,” on view Jan. 10 through May 31, 2015.
Presented in collaboration with Telfair Museums (Savannah, Ga.), the exhibition will feature 30 works by Levitt from the collections of both institutions. As part of the exhibition, the High will acquire 11 prints, a generous gift to the Museum from Mrs. Robert O. Levitt.
“We are honored to collaborate with Telfair Museums on this exhibition, and we are extremely thankful to Mrs. Robert O. Levitt for making it possible to bring works by this important photographer to Atlanta,” said Brett Abbott, Keough Family curator of photography and head of collections at the High. “The prints the High will acquire for the exhibition represent the first works by Levitt to enter the Museum’s collection, where they will strengthen our significant holdings of 20th-century documentary and street photography.”
One of the best-known street photographers of the 20th century, and a friend and colleague of Walker Evans, 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.
Levitt began her career equipped with a handheld Leica camera with a right-angle viewfinder, which allowed her to remain unobtrusive as she documented her subjects’ lives. 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.
Levitt’s 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, Mexico, and Savannah, Ga., added variety to Levitt’s portfolio, but New York City remained at the heart of her work.
Levitt received early acclaim for her images, which were selected for inclusion in the inaugural exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s photography department in 1940. Her meteoric rise within the world of photography was affirmed when MoMA subsequently honored her with a coveted solo exhibition in 1943. Retrospectives of Levitt’s work have been presented at several museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center for Photography and the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Helen Levitt: In the Street” is organized by Telfair Museums, Savannah, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Mrs. Robert O. Levitt.
The High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 14,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk art and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information, visit high.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Arts for Learning. Each year, these arts organizations play host to over 1.2 million patrons at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the U.S. to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. Through its work with educators and schools, the Woodruff Arts Center serves over 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia.
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High Museum of Art
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