Helen Levitt, Photographers’ Gallery – Dec 2021

This was the first time I’d seen the collected work of Helen Levitt who chronicled New York life in her photographs taken between the wars and she carried on documenting what she saw up to the 1970s. She was one of the earliest street photographers and she often used children as her subjects as they offered a surreal sense of hope and fun against a backdrop of a country emerging from the Great Depression. The influence of Dada and later surrealists can be seen in her work which was made it very contemporary at the time. The mock war and gun play of the children mirror the real horrors that were going on around the world at the time. This was a fantastic catalogue of that time and a reminder of the importance of honest, unstaged photography to remind us of the suffering that our predecessors went through but it is more revealing to see children still playing, oblivious of the world around them.

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