Helen Levitt, New York city, circa 1939
Levitt's inscription on the back of the print.
October 14, 2019
Every now and then, the back of a picture tells a story perhaps more intriguing than the front. That is certainly the case with this vintage Helen Levitt print of children's graffiti. I purchased it at auction in October, 1988, where it was listed as a Walker Evans, presumably due to Evans' signature on the back.
However, it seemed much more in Levitt's style than in Evans'. So I took it to Helen, who responded: "the picture is mine, and I have the negative to prove it." She agreed to inscribe a statement on the back of the print, above her signature, and the date.
Many years later I showed the print to a prominent museum curator, expert on both Evans and Levitt. He agreed that this picture was indeed not by Evans, and further suggested that neither was Evans' signature.
(which makes me wonder...)