Archive for the 'Helen Levitt' Category

13
Feb
11

Exhibition: ‘Acquisitions of Twentieth-Century Photography’ at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 7th December 2010 – 14th February 2011

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Many thankx to the Rijksmuseum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Lewis Hine
‘Don’t Smoke, Visits Saloons’
1910

Lewis Hine. May 1910. Wilmington, Delaware. “James Lequlla, newsboy, age 12. Selling newspapers 3 years. Average earnings 50 cents per week. Selling newspapers own choice. Earnings not needed at home. Don’t smoke. Visits saloons. Works 7 hours per day.”

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Gordon Parks
‘Bessie Fontenelle and Little Richard in bed, Harlem New York’
1968

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Helen Levitt
‘Squatting girl/spider girl, New York City’
1980

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“From 7 December, the Rijksmuseum will display a selection of 20th-century photographic works acquired in recent years with the support of Baker & McKenzie. The sponsorship from the renowned law firm has already allowed the museum to purchase more than thirty photographs, including works by László Moholy-Nagy, Bill Brandt, Robert Capa and Helen Levitt, as well as photography books by Man Ray and others. When it reopens in 2013, the Rijksmuseum will be the only museum in the Netherlands able to provide an overview of the history of photography in the Netherlands and abroad.

The most recent acquisition sponsored by Baker & McKenzie and the independent art fund Vereniging Rembrandt is a monumental photograph by Bauhaus photographer László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946). The photograph from 1929 is a key work that marks the transition into modernity. From atop a high bridge, the Pont Transbordeur in Marseille, Moholy-Nagy pointed his camera straight down, where an almost abstract pattern of metal beams contrasted with the sailing boat passing under the bridge. Metal, bridges, machines, aeroplanes and cars formed the icons of a new era for Moholy-Nagy’s generation of artists. They were faced with advancing technology, an enormous increase in scale and mechanisation, and a faster pace of life.

The other photographs to be displayed represent a range of movements in the history of photography. Two photographs by Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) will be displayed. They are both studies of form focusing first and foremost on composition, just as in the Moholy-Nagy work. It was in around 1920 that Hoppé photographed the play of light on cobblestones in New York, and the building of a metal construction in Philadelphia.

The documentary aspects of photography will also be highlighted, with magnificent portraits of a black mother and her child in a report about Harlem in the late 1960s (by Gordon Parks), and a portrait of two men in the southern ‘Cotton States’ of America during the Great Depression of the 1930s (by Peter Sekaer). As early as 1909, Lewis Hine used photography as a weapon in the struggle against injustice. Commissioned by the National Child Labour Committee he documented the child labour industry, in this case a small boy standing on the street selling newspapers.

During the 1930s, Bill Brandt published a (now famous) book on life in London at the time, from which came the photograph ‘Sky lightens over the suburbs’, which is both a study of form and documentary in nature. It shows a forest of glistening roofs, depicted in a melancholy yet realistic manner.

In 1942, Piet Mondrian was photographed in his studio by Arnold Newman, a session from which the Rijksmuseum has acquired a range of photographs. There are few portraits of Mondrian in Dutch collections, making this series particularly special.

A work by Helen Levitt is one of the few colour photographs included in the exhibition. Until the 1980s, colour photography was simply ‘not done’ and Levitt was one of the first to experiment with the method. The photograph of a girl searching for something underneath a green car is a marvellous example of composition in colour.”

Press release from the Rijksmuseum website

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Arnold Newman
‘Piet Mondrian, New York’
1942

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Emil Otto Hoppé
‘Steel construction, Philadelphia’
1926

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László Moholy-Nagy
‘View from Pont Transbordeur, Marseille’
1929

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Bill Brandt
‘Sky lightens over the suburbs, London’
1934

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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Jan Luijkenstraat 1, Amsterdam

Opening hours:
Every day from 9:00 to 18:00

Rijksmuseum website

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01
Feb
10

Exhibition: ‘Picturing New York: Photographs from The Museum of Modern Art’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

Exhibition dates: 25th November 2009 – 7th February 2010

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Many thankx to Monica Cullinane and the Irish Museum of Modern Art for allowing me the reproduce photographs from the exhibition below.

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Times Wide World Photos
American, active 1919 – 1941
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Louis Out for a Stroll
September 25, 1935
Gelatin silver print, 8 ¾ x 6 5/8″ (22.2 x 16.8 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The New York Times Collection.

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Helen Levitt
American, 1913-2009
New York
1982
Gelatin silver print, 9 9/16 x 6 7/16″ (24.3 x 16.4 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Marvin Hoshino in memory of Ben Maddow
© 2009 The Estate of Helen Levitt, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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Louis Stettner
American, born 1922
Manhattan from the Promenade, Brooklyn, New York
1954
Gelatin silver print, 12 1/4 x 18 1/4″ (31.1 x 46.4 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the photographer in memory of his brother, David Stettner
© 2009 Louis Stettner, courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York

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Cindy Sherman
‘Untitled Film Still #21′
1978

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“An exhibition of 145 masterworks from the photographic collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York , celebrating the architecture and life of that unique city from the 1880s to the present day, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday, November 25, 2009. “Picturing New York” draws on one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary photography in the world to celebrate the long tradition of photographing New York, a tradition that continues to frame and influence our perception of the city to this day. Presenting the work of some 40 photographers including such influential figures as Berenice Abbott, Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Lisette Model, Alfred Stieglitz and Cindy Sherman, the exhibition features both the city and its inhabitants, from its vast, overwhelming architecture to the extraordinary diversity of its people.

The exhibition reflects photographers’ ongoing fascination with New York, a city whose vitality, energy, dynamism and sheer beauty have also inspired innumerable artists, writers, filmmakers and composers. New York’s unique architecture is explored, from elegant skyscrapers to small shop fronts; likewise the life of its citizens, from anonymous pedestrians to celebrities and politicians. The city’s characteristic optimism is caught time and again in these images, even in those taken in difficult times. Together, they present a fascinating history of the city over more than a century, from Jacob Riis’s 1888 view of bandits on the Lower East Side to Michael Wesely’s images taken during the recent expansion at MoMA.

The photographs reveal New York as a city of contrasts and extremes through images of towering buildings and tenements, party-goers and street-dwellers, hurried groups and solitary individuals. “Picturing New York” suggests the symbiosis between the city’s progression from past to present and the evolution of photography as a medium and as an art form. Additionally, these photographs of New York contribute significantly to the notion that the photograph, as a work of art, is capable of constructing a sense of place and a sense of self.

“I am thrilled that ‘Picturing New York ‘will be presented in Dublin  – a city whose vitality, grit, and vibrant artistic community resonates with that of New York ,” said Sarah Meister, Curator in MoMA’s Department of Photography, who organized the exhibition. “In addition, the layout and scale of the galleries at IMMA will allow this story – of New York and photography becoming modern together throughout the twentieth century – to unfold as if chapter by chapter.”

Press release from the Irish Museum of Modern Art website

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Jacob Riis
‘Bandit’s Roost at 59½ Mulberry Street’
1888

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Lewis W. Hine
American, 1874–1940
Welders on the Empire State Building
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print, 10 5/8 x 13 5/8″ (27 x 34.6 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Committee on Photography Fund

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Dan Weiner
American, 1919–1959
New Year’s Eve, Times Square
1951
Gelatin silver print, 9 1/4 x 13 3/16″ (23.5 x 33.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Sandra Weiner
© 2009 Estate of Dan Weiner

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Unknown
‘Brooklyn Bridge’
1914

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Weegee (Arthur Fellig)
American, born Austria. 1899–1968
Coney Island
c. 1939
Gelatin silver print, 10 5/16 x 13 11/16″ (26.2 x 34.8 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Anonymous gift

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Irish Museum of Modern Art/Áras Nua-Ealaíne na hÉireann
Royal Hospital
Military Road
Kilmainham
Dublin 8
Ireland
Telephone : +353-1-612 9900

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00am – 5.30pm
except Wednesday: 10.30am – 5.30pm
Sundays and Bank Holidays: 12noon – 5.30pm

Irish Museum of Modern Art website

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13
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Helen Levitt: A Memorial Tribute’ at the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 9th May – 26th June, 2009

 

Further to my earlier posting about the passing of renowned New York photographer Helen Levitt comes this wonderful exhibition at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York. How I wish I was in that city to see it – what a joy!

An amazing selection of photographs from the exhibition can be found on the Laurence Miller Gallery website
Below are a selection of 1940′s black and white photographs from the exhibition.

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, NY' c.1942

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, NY, c.1942′

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, c.1940'

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1940′

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1938

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1938′

 

 

“Laurence Miller Gallery will present a memorial tribute to Helen Levitt from May 9 – June 26, 2009. Helen Levitt passed away in her Greenwich Village home on March 29, at the age of 95. Ironically, or perhaps fittingly, a show of her work entitled Passages, which Helen had approved, was already in the works, and her death caused a momentary pause in how to proceed. It was decided that Helen would not have wanted her passing to intrude upon best laid plans. Hence, guided by her spirit, we celebrate her legacy with this exhibition, her twelfth at Laurence Miller Gallery.

Helen Levitt: A Memorial Tribute will present a series of passages, in both color and black-and-white, from her extraordinary 70-year career. Featured will be her pictures of animals, which were among her earliest as well as last pictures taken; a little-known series of portraits taken on the subway using Walker Evans’ camera; children’s street drawings; elderly folks in conversation; and children at play, the photographs for which she is most well-known. Helen Levitt’s classic and rarely seen silent film, In the Street, from 1944, will be shown as well.

One of the tribute’s highlights will be a selection of never-before-exhibited “first proofs.” These early documents of her working methods are often unique. Some are vintage, others were printed as late as the 1970′s, but all were printed by Helen in her bathroom that doubled as the darkroom. Often they are variants of iconic images, and often they are sequences of several shots taken at the same time. They all reveal the photographer’s “dance” as she observes boys climbing up a tree, a large family gathering on the front stoop, two men seated beside a curious cat, or four boys peering into a pool hall. In combination with the film In the Street, the early sequences reinforce her reputation as a cinematographer, and are genuine and valuable records of the working methods of a canny and poetic photographer.”

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery website

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, c.1940'

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1940′

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, c.1940'

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1940′

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, c.1940'

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1940′

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York, c.1940'

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York, c.1940′

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery

20 West 57th Street, New York
Opening hours: 10 – 5.30pm Tues – Friday, 11 – 5.30pm Sat

Laurence Miller Gallery website

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21
Apr
09

Vale Helen Levitt: Always ‘Here and There’

 

“For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world … Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy …”

Charles Baudelaire ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ 1863

 

Speaking of pioneers of colour photography the wonderful American photographer Helen Levitt died recently at the end of March. Here is a selection of her colour work from the 1970s – 1980s. With two Guggenheim Foundation grants in 1959 and 1960 she switched from black and white to colour dye-transfer prints photographing the theatre of the street, the serendipity of the decisive moment previsualised and captured through awareness and an intimate knowledge of her subject matter. Unfortunately in a burglary in 1970 most of her colour transparencies and prints were stolen from that initial period.
What remains, as Sally Mann would say, are the eloquent bones of the matter: superb lush colour photographs taken after 1970 that engage the viewer not in memory but in the moment, not in nostalgia but in joy. In colour she found “beauty in correspondences.”

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1972

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
1972

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
c.1971

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
c.1971

 

“A good image, she thought, was just lucky. But her New Yorker’s instinct seemed to tell her exactly where to wait for one. A broken-down car would soon attract people to lie under it, peer under the hood or try to push it. A cane chair, put out on the sidewalk, would draw an elderly man with cigar and newspaper, or a plump young woman in a housecoat wilting in the heat. With luck dogs would come out too, rough-haired mutts or poodles with fresh-shampooed coats. The open back of a truck would reveal delivery men moping on piles of sacks, or dozing among pink and blue bales of cloth. Any abandoned thing – a tea-chest, a mirror frame, the pillared entry of an empty building – would soon sport knots of children diving in, climbing up, fighting and contorting their small bodies in every kind of way … 

Her pictures did not have names. “New York”, and the year, was the label on most of them. They did not need explaining; they were “just what you see” … 

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1971

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
c.1971

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' c.1972

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
c.1972

 

In the 1960s, when she got two Guggenheim grants, she began to shoot the streets in colour. The tricky developing ultimately frustrated her, and the streets, too, had changed. The children had retreated indoors to watch television. But where she had found grace and texture in black and white, colour now provided beauty in correspondences. The multicoloured balls in bubble-gum machines could be picked up in a girl’s dress, or the red of a stiletto shoe matched with the frame of a shop window. Her broken-down cars were now lurid beasts against the stucco walls. And out of her peeling, greenish doorways could come women in furs, or pink hair-curlers, or orange-striped socks.”

Text from the Economist April 8th 2009

 

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1980

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
1980

 

Helen Levitt. 'New York' 1971

 

Helen Levitt
‘New York’
1971

 

 

‘Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt’ by John Szarkowski, Powerhouse Books, 2005 is available from the Amazon website. The photograph above is used on the cover of the book.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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