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Clarence Helen Levitt, American, (August 31, 1913–March 29, 2009)
New York, New York [Broken Mirror], 1942
Gelatin silver print on paper
14 in. x 11 in. (35.56 cm x 27.94 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Gelatin silver Process
Credit Line: Scripps College. Purchase made possible by the Jean and Arthur Ames Fund
Accession Number: 2004.6.1

[Wall text from Art Pix #1: Streetview: A Spectrum in Black and White]
"Broken Mirror depicts a crowded street scene wherein a group of young boys gather around the frame of a broken mirror. Two boys bend to pick up some of the shards, but the others stare on, in a curious state of transfixion. Has Levitt caught these boys in the moment just after the breaking of the mirror? If so, then why is each so calm? A certain solemnity pervades the scene, which seems all the more surreal by the fact that the adult world, the people bustling by on the street behind the boys, rushes on by, completely unaware. Levitt is the sole person who has caught a glimpse into a secret world to share this intimate moment in time. She reveals her ability to capture the poetry in the everyday and transform a simple instant into one that seems to stretch infinitely."
(Julia Berryman SC '12)

Levitt was an early pioneer of “street photography,” a radical version of documentary realism that celebrated chance encounters and random meetings. Levitt would compose her shots quickly as she moved through the street. A New York curbside cuts through the frame at a sharp angle, and the child, on a bicycle, in the center of the frame, is perfectly framed by the titular broken mirror. Street life in New York is chaotic, but Levitt transforms the mercurial city into a clear and legible photograph.

David Kuhio Ahia, PO ’18
Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern

Signed on verso.

Silver gelatin print.

Object Description
Image of children playing on a street in New York City.

Purchased from the Koeikan Gallery in Los Angeles, California, 9/2004.

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