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Leon Levinstein, American, (1910–1988)
Mardi Gras, New Orleans, 1975; c. 1980
Gelatin silver print on paper
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift to Scripps College, 2013
Accession Number: 2013.24.3

Illus: Obsession p. 87, Moment of Exposure p. 85

This photograph was shot in 1975; the print was created ca. 1980.

Leon Levinstein was born in West Virginia in 1910, and moved to New York in 1946. A solitary man, Levinstein lived and worked alone: he never married, had few friends, and pushed away those who wanted to further his career. Yet this isolation is what made his photographs so emotive.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans demonstrates this ability to blend and disappear in such a crowd. Levinstein’s camera freezes eye contact with the subject, cropping the image until only the man is facing the viewer. The languid hold on the cup, the delicate balancing of the cigarette, and the demure lowering of the head are contrasted with the commanding presence the subject exudes. His head may be lowered, but he gazes straight into the camera. For all that the subject is barely clothed he is not vulnerable. Here especially, there is a security in Levinstein’s invisibility —as though picture taken, the viewer can now blend safely back into the crowd, unremarked by all.

Allegra Cox, SCR 2018

stamped verso

On the front, right center, in the border, there is a small arrow, written horizontally, in blue ink, ca. 1/2 in. wide.

gelatin silver print on paper

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