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Helen Levitt

For the screenwriter of the same name, see Helen Slote Levitt.
Helen Levitt (born 31 August 1913) is an American documentary photographer.

Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Dropping out of school, she taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. While teaching some classes in art to children in 1937, Levitt became intrigued with the transitory chalk drawings that were part of the New York children's street culture of the time. She purchased a Leica camera and began to photograph these works as well as the children who made them. The resulting photographs appeared, to great acclaim, in 1987 as In The Street: chalk drawings and messages, New York City 1938–1948.[1] Named as one of the "100 best photo-books", first-editions are now highly collectable.[citation needed]

She studied with Walker Evans 1938 and 1939. In 1943 Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art curated her first solo exhibition, after which she began to find press work as a documentary photographer. In the late 1940s she made two documentary films with Janice Loeb and James Agee: In the Street (1948) and The Quiet One (1948). Levitt, along with Loeb and Sidney Meyers, received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of The Quiet One. Levitt was later credited as a cinematographer on The Savage Eye (1960),[2] which was produced by Ben Maddow, Meyers, Joseph Strick; she was also credited as an assistant director for Strick and Maddow's film version of The Balcony (1963).

Levitt worked in film for about ten years. In 1959 and 1960, Levitt received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to take color photographs on the streets of New York, and she returned to still photography.[1] Her first major book was A Way of Seeing (1965).[3] Much of her work in color from the 1960s was stolen in a burglary. The remaining photos, and others taken in the following years, can be seen in the 2005 book Slide Show: The Color Photographs of Helen Levitt.[4] In 1976 she was a Photography Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has remained active as a photographer for nearly 70 years and still lives in New York City. New York's "visual poet laureate" is notoriously private and publicity shy.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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