Helen Levitt's playfully poetic photographs, made over the course of sixty years on the streets of her native New York City, are notable for the way they find delightful twists within the daily lives of her subjects. The New York Times described her as: "a major photographer of the 20th century who caught fleeting moments of surpassing lyricism". One thing that set Levitt apart from the more socially concerned documentary street photographers of her time was her focus on the body language of her subjects. Frequently what her photographs are most about are dance-like gestures; by turns elegant, or comic, and sometimes both at once. Children were a particularly fruitful subject for Levitt, their games suggestive of both inventive whimsy as well as miniature allegories.
James Agee once described Helen Levitt's pictures of children thusly: “The overall preoccupation in the photographs is, it seems to me, with innocence-not as the word has come to be misunderstood and debased, but in its full, original wildness, fierceness, and instinct for grace and form.”
Helen Levitt’s photographs, in black and white and later in color, reflected her good humored creative vision while also giving an honest portrayal of her subjects. What she captured was every-day people performing a gritty yet graceful dance on the stage afforded by the sidewalks and stoops of New York City.