Leon Levinstein: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players
Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players is a knockout series of photographs by Leon Levinstein, which recalls the vibrancy of Robert Frank’s urban scenes and the unselfconsciousness of Walker Evans’ hidden-camera subway shots, but with elements of levity and the grotesque. Staking out New York City’s busiest public arenas, Times Square, Coney Island and Washington Square Park, Levinstein photographed hookers, hustlers, housewives, businessmen, cross-dressers, and the permanently down-and-out with no trace of sentimentality, but with plenty of heart.
From the early nineteen-fifties until a few years before his death in 1988, he worked on the fly, and almost always without engaging his subjects. Perhaps that’s why his pictures still feel so urgent and raw. Levinstein refined his Bowery compositions, but he never blunted his hit-and-run attack. He wasn’t slumming or judging; always a loner himself, he was communing with New York at its grittiest, and clearly relishing the experience.
The Photography of Leon Levinstein (1950-1980)
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