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Photo of the Week #158

Helen Levitt

Helen Levitt New York City, 1959 three young girls looking out window with curiosity.

New York City, 1959
9 × 13 3/8 in
Dye transfer print


September 13, 2021

In 1959 Helen Levitt received the first of two successive Guggenheim Fellowships which funded her work in color photography. In this period Levitt was returning to street photography after a decade focused primarily on filmmaking. Her adoption of color photography allowed her to introduce expressive details like the single red shoe propped up on the windowsill. What hadn't changed in her work was her keen and sensitive way of observing her subjects. Seeing the children peering out the window with attentive curiosity, it's tempting to see their watchful eyes as a kind of reflection of Helen's own observant way of looking. 
Levitt's pioneering transition into color guided the subsequent generation of street photographers, such as William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, whose work ushered in the broader embrace of fine-art color photography.