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W.W. Norton & Company
American photographer Helen Levitt--renowned for her honest, compelling shots of early industrial New York City--spent a good part of 1941 photographing Mexico City. The slices of life depicted in this collection of her work present a vision of a city becoming. Levitt focuses her acutely urban sensibilities on a city whose increased industrialization after World War Two brought tremendous social and economic change. Factories in central urban areas required people to leave rural homes for regular work and promises of "progress." Levitt's photographs frankly depict the juxtaposed traditions of rural life and industry for this new working class: women in homespun garments board trains, poor children dry machine-made clothes on cacti, and shawl-wrapped peasants carry daily newspapers. These beautifully printed images shed visionary light on modern Mexico City.
Movement, or more specifically, cinematic movement, the moving camera, is what Levitt's work suggests (see also her classic A Way of Seeing ). Her images of Mexico City in 1941, a time when Mexico was at a historical crossroads, are quietly stunning. Whether the subject is merchants at market, beggars on street curbs, children making a game out of garbage, or well-heeled individuals strolling through a park, Levitt's lens seems to have captured more than the eyes can absorb. Like stills... read more
Esteemed American photographer Helen Levitt lived in Mexico City in 1941 and photographed the city's rapid urbanization and traditional ways of life, then struggling to coexist. Levitt's astute vision captured a city and its inhabitants on the cusp of modernity, with neither sentimentalism nor romanticism. Working almost exclusively in urban and semi-urban areas of Mexico City, she confronted directly the conflicts and juxtapositions that provided inescapable evidence of Mexico's presence in the modern world, and she did so with compelling force and dry wit. These images show street scenes in Chapultepec Park and other distinctly urban zones, as well as the working-class neighborhoods then on the periphery of the city. Over half a century later, her photographs unlock the past, helping to decipher the sprawling city of today. Most of these images have never before been exhibited or published.
The text is in both English and Spanish throughout the book.