press release

The ICO Foundation is producing the first anthology of the American photographer, following her recent death. The exhibition comprises 120 pictures and the documentary film In the Street.

As part of the PHotoEspaña festival, the Museo Colecciones ICO (MUICO) presents ‘Helen Levitt. Urban Poetry. Photography 1936-1993', the first anthology organized in Spain on the famous American photographer after her death in 2009 at the age of 96.

Helen Levitt is one of the great U.S. photographers from the latter half of the 20th century. Her body of work is noteworthy because of her original viewpoint and her documentary style, focused on urban life, especially in the popular neighbourhoods of New York. Her pictures capture small instants of everyday life, moments that are apparently banal yet conveying a considerable metaphorical sense of the social conditions of our times.

The exhibition, produced by the ICO Foundation, consists of nearly 120 pictures taken from 1936 to the 1990s, in addition to the documentary film In the Street, a forerunner of independent American cinema, which she made in 1945 along with the writer James Agee and the painter Janice Loeb. The show underlines how Levitt's pictures have shaped the aesthetics of instantaneity in street photography, with her capacity to suspend movement, freeze small moments, and break the continuity of the flow of real life with sheer visual strength.

Helen Levitt (U.S.A. 1913-2009) was born in Brooklyn. She dropped out of high school and at a very early age she went to work as a photography apprentice in the Bronx, practicing various techniques before setting out to create her own shots. She was a friend of Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans and collaborated with Luis Buñuel, whom she helped on his short pro-American propaganda films during World War II. From 1949 to 1959 she worked in the film industry and during the 60s she experimented with colour, a practice she abandoned in the 1980s.

The MUICO (no. 3 Zorrilla Street), a grand little museum on the Avenue of Art, seeks to be established as a major part of the Spanish cultural circuit, with differentiated high quality offerings that afford Madrilenians and visitors to the city the possibility of enjoying art next to art.

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Helen Levitt. Urban Poetry. Photography 1936-1993
Kurator: Jorge Ribalta
Ort: Museo Colecciones ICO (MUICO, Madrid