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Collection > Helen Levitt >

N.Y.

c. 1945

  • Medium

    Gelatin silver print

  • Dimensions

    11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.6 cm)Image: 7 x 10 1/4 in. (17.8 x 26 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Photography Collection

  • Accession number

    95.41.17

  • Object label

    Helen Levitt’s candid, diaristic street photography captures both the fantasies and realities of children living in working-class New York. The hard-boiled social experiences of Spanish Harlem (as it was then known) and the Lower East Side coexist in the frame with children’s imaginative world of play. The built environment is decrepit, but the street is nonetheless a humming, vibrant theater in which kids invent games and the sidewalk is a canvas for chalk pictures. By her own account, Levitt was not drawn to children because of any particular affection for them, rather simply because they were ready subjects, always present on the street. She remained inconspicuous by outfitting her camera with a right-angle periscopic attachment: she appeared to be photographing what was in front of her, but was actually photographing what was beside her.​