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Dual Exhibitions Present Changes in Urban Life and Photography Over the Last 60 Years
Image from Helen Levitt’s film In the Street (1941–1952), courtesy Cecile Starr.

STANFORD, CA.- The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University announces two concurrent exhibitions of photography. “In a New York Minute: Photographs by Helen Levitt” and “Paths through the Global City: Photographs by Leo Rubinfien” open February 2, and both continue through May 1, 2011. Admission is free.

“These images by Levitt are icons of the spontaneity and eccentricity of the New York City streets. Rubinfien’s work reveals the poetry of urban life, especially the street,” said Hilarie Faberman, Ph.D., the Cantor Arts Center’s curator of modern and contemporary art. “Although the two exhibitions are separate and distinct, commonality resides in the photographers’ attraction to the urban scene and in the spontaneity of their work. Rubinfien’s and Levitt’s works, presented in tandem, underscore changes in urban life and documentary photography over the last 60 years.”

“In a New York Minute” presents 55 photographs, 41 in black and white and 11 in color, that Levitt selected as some of the most important images of her career. Levitt (1913–2009), who grew up in Brooklyn, dropped out of high school and taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. She enjoyed early success and gained critical acclaim as a “photographers’ photographer.” Fortune magazine published her work in its July 1939 issue on New York City. Two decades later, Levitt turned to color photography, one of the first important artists to use this medium. Levitt also produced films, and In the Street, directed and edited by Levitt and released in 1953, runs continuously in the exhibition. Photographs in the exhibition are from the collection of The Capital Group Foundation. “In a New York Minute” has been made possible by generous support from The Capital Group Foundation and the Clumeck Fund at the Cantor Arts Center.

Rubinfien (b. 1953), an acclaimed photographer and eloquent author, was born in Chicago and grew up in the Midwest and in Japan. He describes himself as an “insatiable traveler,” and his early work was characterized by an attention to what would later be referred to as “globalization.” In a 1982 review of his first solo exhibition, Art in America called Rubinfien one of the most promising of the young color photographers at that time. A Map of the East, Rubinfien’s first book of photographs, was the source for his one-person exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1992. The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibited works from his latest publication, Wounded Cities, a response to the tragedy of 9/11. “Paths through the Global City” presents works from these projects and two others still in progress, 30-plus black-and-white and color photographs drawn from the Center’s collection and lent by the artist.

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