The Schmooze

Leon Levinstein's Powerful, Pitiless Street Photography

Some Jewish photographers embrace subject matter which plays better overseas than in the United States. One example is Weegee, born Usher Fellig in Złoczów, whose photos of low class nightlife and crime were infused with a raucous gusto that charmed Europe decades before he received adequate recognition in America.

Leon Levinstein, an even more difficult case than Weegee because he was a less exuberant slummer, is being honored from June 8 to October 17 at the Metropolitan Museum with the exhibit “Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein’s New York Photographs, 1950–1980.”

The Met is not issuing an exhibit catalog, so the best book on Levinstein will remain a lavish album from Paris’s Les éditions Léo Scheer by photo curator Sam Stourdzé. In it, we learn that Levinstein came late to photography, at around age 35, and it remained a mere avocation while he kept his day job at a Manhattan ad agency.

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Leon Levinstein's Powerful, Pitiless Street Photography

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