Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players
Leon Levinstein was quoted in Photography Annual 1955: “In my photographs I want to look at life—at the commonplace things as if I just turned a corner and ran into them for the first time.”
The man, Leon Levinstein, summed it up himself in that 1980s interview. “You gotta be alone and work alone,” he said. “It’s a lonely occupation, if you wanna call it that.”
He would skulk through crowds, blend in, and observe things that others would miss. Photographing strangers at close range, Levinstein captured the back alleys of New York City framing the faces, flesh, poses, and movements of his fellow city dwellers: couples, kids, beggars, prostitutes, families, society ladies, and sunbathers. Levinstein is best known for his candid and unsentimental black-and-white figure studies made in New York City neighborhoods from Times Square and the Lower East Side to Coney Island and Harlem.