Yesterday I treat myself when I found and bought a used copy of the SFMOMA book about Helen Levitt on a bookstore downtown Boston.

From Levitt I already have the ‘green’ book entitled ‘Helen Levitt’ and published in 2008. She certainly ranks on top of my favorite photographers ladder, because she just did marvelous photographs, and her work is engaging in a peculiar way. She is seriously underrated, compared to – say – Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Besides the photographs – some of which I never saw before – the book includes long essays and Levitt’s biographical data from Sandra Philips and Maria Morris Hambourg that I did not read yet. It also has pictures from other photographers such as Ben Shahn, Walker Evans and Cartier-Bresson to articulate the essays.


Few steps away on another bookstore (*) I also got a used copy of Mark Cohen ‘Grim Street’ which I find is a stunning book but of a totally different universe. Check out the note about it on Colin Pantall’s blog.

There is something fascinating in Cohen’s pictures in that the way he would operate is so intrusive whereas the final result is enigmatic, full of mystery and highly elusive albeit strongly consistent. Very different from Bruce Gilden (who has a similar routine of getting very close and using the flash).


Note (*) the Boston area has so many bookstores, in addition to very good public libraries, not to speak about the University resources, such as the Artistic Institute of Boston.

3 thoughts on “Treat….

    • Not fully yet… But I read some interesting insight about how she “learned” to compose, under the influence of Cartier-Bresson both directly (she was impressed by his photographs) and indirectly after she met him, when she would go to galleries to look at paintings and get very inspired by that.

      Also one very interesting assumption which is made is about the places she would choose and how they should be considered as imaginary game scenery instead of social depiction – hence why her work fundamentally differs from a mere documentary outlook.

      Must find the time to read the full texts though.

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