Leon Levinstein (American, Buckhannon, West Virginia 1910–1988 New York)
Gelatin silver print
34.3 x 25.4 cm (13 1/2 x 10 in.)
Gift of a private collector, 2011
Not on view
A master of postwar American street photography, Levinstein is best known for his candid, unsentimental black-and-white figure studies made in New York City neighborhoods, from Times Square and the Lower East Side to Coney Island. His graphic virtuosity—seen in raw, expressive gestures and seemingly monumental bodies—is balanced by an unusual compassion for his off-beat subjects. He worked with the camera at extremely close range and focused on the faces, flesh, poses, and movements of city dwellers in their myriad forms: sunbathers, young couples, children, businessmen, beggars, prostitutes, proselytizers, society ladies, and characters of all stripes. Here, in the New Orleans French Quarter—one of the nation’s most notorious sites for unabashed debauchery—Levinstein confronts the prone form of a happy Mardi Gras reveler sleeping off his nighttime fun in a mobile bed manufactured in Detroit.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on print, verso BC: "PF52300"; estate stamp in black ink on mount, verso BR: "LEON LEVINSTEIN" [inside a rectangular outline]