The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
8 June–17 October 2010
by NINA STEIN
Perhaps most moving, however, is the subtle loneliness of these photographs – the feeling of being ever so slightly outside of the crowd, on the tip of the curb and the edge of the frame. Levinstein's subjects are not hostile, exactly, but a slightly suspicious tone underscores a pervading vulnerability – we experience a solid handshake with unsure eyes. We are never quite sure who we’re meeting or what we are seeing, and perhaps they are not either. These people remain strangers despite the brief encounters we are offered with every shot.
And so it would seem that Levinstein succeeds in his aim to: “... Look at life – at the commonplace things as if I just turned a corner and ran into them for the first time. "We meet beautifully composed beach bums, young mothers, hustlers and hipsters – a myriad of lives and looks. We see tired socialites and cradled babies, attractive girlfriends and lecherous men. We see (with more focus than usual) all those accidentally connected lives – casual glances at the bodies and beauties of the street.
During his lifetime, Levinstein was celebrated by a host of influential figures, including Alexey Brodovitch, artistic director of Harper's Bazaar, as well as Edward Steichen, the well-known curator at the Museum of Modern Art (where Levinstein was included in several group exhibitions) and a photographer in his own right. He was associated, at the time, with Diane Arbus, Richard Avendon and Robert Frank – and was very much an important figure in that group, despite relatively limited commercial success and outside exposure. He photographed the regular people on the street, but few outside of the art world would have recognised him, and he remained until his death rather more of a photographers’ photographer.
That the Met now invites rather a lot of attention to Levinstein's worthy collection of work is a cause for celebration. Levinstein's work marks a time before photography became such a commercial endeavor, and captures a city before it swayed that way also. We are shown a candor that is rare in modern photography, and we leave the exhibition with these images and brief encounters lingering – almost surprised that such a chance encounter with a bunch of strangers can indeed be so comforting.
Klaus Moje: A Love Affair with Glass
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Silence and Connection
The experience of being deaf was integral to the poignant portraits painted by John Brewster Jr. In his portraits, Brewster (1766-1854) not only found a way to connect with the hearing world, but he discovered how to make the silence that surrounded him palpable to those who viewed his works.
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The film and video artist Douglas Gordon had his first one-man exhibition in Britain at the Lisson Gallery in 1994, sponsored by its perceptive director Nicholas Logsdail, to which he returned again in 2001. The following year, he was to exhibit 'Entre'Act 3' at the Stedelijk Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven. 'Fuzzy Logic' followed at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and from about this time his work really took off internationally.
Book review: Archaeology of an Urban Desert
Jon Naar is a British photographer who has been based in New York. In 1974 he joined up with the late Norman Mailer to produce The Faith of Graffiti (1974), which contained around forty of his photographs. This combined survey was immediately successful, and is now a rare collectors' item. At that time, Naar's pictures captured brilliantly the spirit of the times, from inside the closely woven infrastructure of New York City, opening the very arteries and veins of the urban complex.
Cream Rising to the Top. 100 Dresses by The Costume Institute/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In his preface to this collaboration between the Met and Yale University Press, Met Costume Institute Curator in Charge Harold Koda says that, for all of their historical, technical and sociological import, the garments selected for 100 Dresses are subjective choices made by Costume Institute staff.