Lot 3
  • 3

Helen Levitt

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Helen Levitt
  • Gelatin silver print
mounted, signed, titled, dated, annotated 'U. S. Camera Annual' and with numerical notations in pencil on the reverse, framed, Buhl Collection and Guggenheim Museum exhibition labels on the reverse, circa 1939


The photographer
Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, 2003


New York, Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, June - September 2004, and 4 other international venues through 2007 (see Appendix 1)

Palm Beach Photographic Centre, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, March 2011

Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Full of Grace: A Journey Through the History of Childhood, January - March 2012


Jennifer Blessing, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection (Guggenheim Foundation, 2004), pp. 35 and 228 (this print)

Sandra Phillips and Maria Morris Hambourg, Helen Levitt (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1991), cover and p. 14

Helen Levitt: A Way of Seeing
(Duke University Press, 1989), pl. 14

Barbara Haskell, The American Century:  Art and Culture, 1900-1950 (Whitney Museum of American Art, 1999), pl. 654

Catalogue Note

This image of a spirited group of boys at play in their improvised Beau Geste headgear was selected for inclusion in Helen Levitt’s first one-woman show, Children: Photographs by Helen Levitt, at the Museum of Modern Art in March 1943.  Beginning in 1936, Levitt began photographing children in the New York City streets, using a Leica with a right-angle viewfinder and short focal length to avoid lengthy focusing and pointing the camera directly at her subjects, thereby capturing the spontaneity, joys, and mysteries of their complex, imaginary worlds. 

MoMA’s publicity director, Sarah Newmeyer, wrote in the museum’s press release for the exhibition,

‘Her photography is opposite in spirit and intent to that of the so-called “documentary” photographers who work with large-view cameras set up on tripods.  She attempts to record the accidental in its brief second of high emotional impact, to seize the unforeseen and the quick’ (4 March 1943).