"The artist's task is not to alter the world as the eye sees it, but to perceive the esthetic reality within the actual world" First Edition of Helen Levitt's First Book A Way of Seeing; Signed by Her
Levitt, Helen; Agee, James.
A Way of Seeing: Photographs of New York by Helen Levitt with an essay by James Agee.
New York: Viking, 1965. First edition. Oblong, quarto. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Signed by Helen Levitt on the title page.
"James Agee, dead ten years in 1965, had written his essay for the book in 1946… Although he may not have been the first writer to apply the word lyrical to Levitt's marvelously serendipitous images of urban street theater, his essay was for some time their most persuasive critical frame. In this edition, his text literally brackets the 50 photos, which are arranged in an episodic montage—bleak, antic, poignant; sometimes melodramatic, often comic—at once suggestively narrative and as ephemeral as a passing glance" (Roth, 178). In this timeless work, "Levitt's photographs are beautiful—major, underrated works. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson, she achieves a rare balancing act: her pictures have sentiment without being sentimental" (Parr & Badger II:252).