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Boy with Bubble

Helen Levitt


Helen Levitt's photograph of two children on a New York street is a wonderful example of her prolific engagement with street life. The capacity to transform the documentary into poetry, to interpret a scene on the street from a humanistic perspective and give it a new meaning, is a key feature of Brooklyn-born Levitt's lifelong photographic practice, always more artistic than journalistic.

The seemingly simple structure of this image reveals a skillful sense of composition. The graffiti and the many layers of advertisements on the back wall echo the black scribbles on the face of the boy on the left, his vertically striped pants juxtaposed with the horizontal bands of the wall in the background. Quietly and full of concentration, he is gazing at the other boy, slightly out of focus, carefully handling a bubble.

Levitt studied with Walker Evans in New York in the late 1930s and began photographing city children in the 1940s, always imbuing her subjects with characteristic warmth. In 1970, she was one of the first street photographers to begin working in color.
MEDIUM Chromogenic (Ektacolor) photograph
DATES 1972
DIMENSIONS sheet: 14 x 17 in. (35.6 x 43.2 cm) image: 10 3/4 x 16 1/8 in. (27.3 x 41 cm)
SIGNATURE Signed, titled, and dated on verso.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by Richard Menschel, Eileen and Adam Boxer, Dr. Joel E. Hershey, Harry Kahn, Marilynn and Ivan Karp, and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
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