Exciting news! We have just opened up the second floor Permanent Collection galleries with Camera Work: Photography from the Permanent Collection. This is a re-installation of the permanent collection which includes 150 works from the beginnings of photography in the late 1800s up until the current day.
The Museum does not generally put out a lot of marketing material on installations of Permanent Collection exhibits so you will not see any advertisements. Regardless, we are quite proud of the breadth of our photography collection and we invite you to come upstairs and take a look.
Even if you only have a passing knowledge of the history of photography, you will see names that you know like: Eugène Atget, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, Brassaï, Man Ray, Andreas Feininger (a personal favorite), Sebastião Salgado, Robert Frank and John Waters. Besides these celebrities you will find a multitude of lesser-known genre-changing photographers. The new discoveries that you will make are extraordinary. Our photography collection is one of our strongest disciplines in terms of collecting. In just one gallery you will see all of these revolutionary photographers and many more.
I would like to focus on one photographer in particular, Helen Levitt. We have only one Helen Levitt photograph, New York, but it is indicative of the style which brought her great renown. Helen Levitt practiced street photography in the late 1930s and early 1940s in New York City, capturing the lives of the children that spent their days playing outside in the neighborhoods, most notably Spanish Harlem.
Helen Levitt utilized a non-intrusive style, allowing the children to scamper about without any interference on her part besides the occasional snap of her Leica's shutter. Although not an outspoken proponent of either Communism or Socialism, she took these photos as a type of social commentary about the poverty which surrounded her in the city.
New York shows a baby toddling across a wet city street towards a smiling woman standing with her arm outstretched to receive the small child. In the background one sees a group of children jostling each other on the steps of a neighboring building while a fire hydrant spews water into the street.
As one of the earliest female photographers to obtain a one-person show (Helen Levitt: Photographs of Children at the Museum of Modern Art, curated by Edward Steichen) it was saddening to read of her passing.
But it also reminds us of how much progress has been made in terms of both women artists and photography, which can be read as a kind of photo-diary on the walls of the gallery.
By: Kelli Bodle, Curatorial Assitant, Boca Raton Museum of Art