A solitary New York photographer

A new exhibition at the Hellenic American Union celebrates the work of Leon Levinstein, a prominent photographer of the so-called New York School. The show, which opened last night at the organization’s gallery hall, will run to January 23. This is the first time the artist’s images are going on display in this country. The exhibition showcases some 85 black-and-white photographs, the majority of which were taken in Manhattan’s underprivileged neighborhoods during Levinstein’s long strolls. A solitary man, Levinstein avoided intimacy, seeking solace in his photographic tools – and on the street. Though the artist never sought to carve out a prominent career for himself, through his oeuvre he became one of the strongest voices of American 20th-century photography. In the words of Helen Gee, owner of the Limelight Gallery, «success will come to Levinstein only when he’s no longer around to stand in its way.» While Levinstein’s main source of income stemmed from his involvement with graphic design, in postwar America he increasingly stood out in the world of creative photography, thanks to his deeply personal take. His vision was one of dynamic aesthetic compositions coupled with powerful subject matter, a course which steered clear from any kind of flirtation with the sensational or the sentimental. Born in West Virginia in 1910, Levinstein studied under a trio of noted professors, all three celebrated figures of photography, namely Alexey Brodovitch, art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Lisette Model, also the teacher of famed photographer Diane Arbus, as well as Sid Grossman, a politicized New York photographer. Levinstein died in New York in 1988. While the artist’s body of work was broadly recognized during the 1990s, a large number of magazines, museums and galleries had published and showcased his engaging photographs during his lifetime. Curated by photography theoretician Platon Rivellis, the Hellenic American Union exhibition is accompanied by a catalog of works. The show comes courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York. Hellenic American Union, 22 Massalias, Kolonaki. The exhibition runs to January 23, but will be closed during the holiday season from December 21 to January 10. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from noon to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Closed on Sunday. For more information, visit

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