Just Above Sunset
May 9, 2004 Photography
Paris - From our correspondent in Chicago...
A Curtain in Montmartre…
Seventeen is a lucky number… a curious drainpipe on Ile St-Louis…
on the Left Bank, anyone? Near rue Mouffetard …
just some quiet reading in the Luxembourg gardens…?
Or little music?
Near the Madeleine - first
there is this lingerie shop, next to which is a maternity store ("Balloon"), next to which is a patisserie (for those who
figure, “Oh what the hell, I've already lost my figure, anyway…”)
The second photo? They take this stuff seriously….
glimpsed from the speeding metro, a poster for another good photographer …
Helen Levitt made her mark on photography during a volatile time in America. The social crisis of the 1930's inspired photographers to work for government funded projects to expose and correct the social problems. Walker Evans documented the rural south and Lewis Hine labor conditions while Dorothea Lange revealed urban plights. Helen Levitt chose a different path. At age 23 the subject she'd singularly devote a long career was located just blocks away in the children of New York neighborhoods.
As a child raised in Brooklyn, NY she had a fascination with sounds, dance, books and foreign films. Feeling unstimulated at school she left before graduating and went to work for a commercial photographer gaining technical knowledge over the next four years. Her self-taught education aligned her with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans. Cartier-Bresson's work taught her three lessons: a blunt photographic record of ordinary facts could reveal the mystery and fantasy within daily life; that the poetry in such pictures turned its back on conventional value systems and notions of beauty; and that this art, which trafficked in the momentary, was not haphazard.
"Helen Levitt's extraordinary gift is to perceive in a transient split second, and in the most ordinary of places
- the common city street - the richly imaginative, various, and tragically tender moments of ordinary human existence,"
said poet Wallace Stevens.
much for Paris... But out here? Down on La Cienega near Beverly Center is this pink
stucco landmark - “Trashy Lingerie” – an intentionally ironic place that’s been there for years. And up on Hollywood Boulevard is the gray and lavender six-story art deco original
Fredrick’s of Hollywood building – which has its own museum that gets a lot of press (Madonna’s metal torpedo
bra in a glass case, I hear tell). Not Paris… This is Hollywood
From last week's home page...
Our correspondent in Chicago, whose photographs appeared here last week, is off to the south
of France for a bit, specifically to St-Rémy, where you just might find her strolling down this alley.
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....