I have just finished reading this book Photography a Concise History by Ian Jeffrey, published by Thames and Hudson. ISBN: 0-500-20187-0. This book was first published in 1981; so the history only goes up as fay as 1979 and is typically biased towards black-and-white images. I guess partly due to the attitude towards colour photography at that time and also most amateurs and artists who may be reading this book would have predominately been working in black-and-white anyway. Jeffrey sums up in the last lines of his book that he felt that American photographers were producing more diverse and interesting imagery than their European cousins at that time (1970s).
Interesting book for timeline of development of photography for mainly Europe and America the rest of the world is hardly mentioned. Early images are linked to the technical development of photography but this thread appears to be is lost by the 1920s and the development of the Leica. However, very little is mentioned about Japan’s development of cameras or examples of artists work using any. Interestingly by the time this book went to print most professional and amateurs were all using Japanese cameras.
Levitt grew up in Brooklyn N.Y. she dropped out of school and went to work for a commercial photographer and she taught her self photography. She became interested in the children’s chalk drawings that the children made on the pavements and walls and using her Leica camera began photographing the drawings and the children. These images were eventualy published in a book in 1987 ‘In the Street Chalk Drawings and Messages, New York city 1938 – 1948.
1938 – 1939, Levitt associated herself with Walker Evans and in 1939 The Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited some of her work. In 1943 Levitt’s work was exclusively exhibited by the curator Nancy Newhall entitled Helen Levitt: Photographs of Children. Her next major show was in the 1960’s.
In the Late 40’s Levitt made two documentary films with Janice Loeb and James Agee, ‘James Agee: In the Street’ and ‘The Quiet One’. Loeb and Levitt were nominated for an Academy Award for the screen play for ‘The Quiet One’. Levitt went on to do more films.
In 1959 – 1960 Levitt received two Guggenheim Foundation grants to take colour photographs on the streets of New York and they were published in a book ‘The Way of Seeing’ However, much of her colour work of the 1960’s were stolen in a burglary of her apartment.