Skip Navigation

Boy with Bubble

Helen Levitt


Helen Levitt's photograph of two children on a New York street is a wonderful example of her prolific engagement with street life. The capacity to transform the documentary into poetry, to interpret a scene on the street from a humanistic perspective and give it a new meaning, is a key feature of Brooklyn-born Levitt's lifelong photographic practice, always more artistic than journalistic.

The seemingly simple structure of this image reveals a skillful sense of composition. The graffiti and the many layers of advertisements on the back wall echo the black scribbles on the face of the boy on the left, his vertically striped pants juxtaposed with the horizontal bands of the wall in the background. Quietly and full of concentration, he is gazing at the other boy, slightly out of focus, carefully handling a bubble.

Levitt studied with Walker Evans in New York in the late 1930s and began photographing city children in the 1940s, always imbuing her subjects with characteristic warmth. In 1970, she was one of the first street photographers to begin working in color.
MEDIUM Chromogenic (Ektacolor) print
DATES 1972
DIMENSIONS sheet: 14 x 17 in. (35.6 x 43.2 cm) image: 10 3/4 x 16 1/8 in. (27.3 x 41 cm)  (show scale)
SIGNATURE Signed, titled, and dated on verso.
CREDIT LINE Purchased with funds given by Richard Menschel, Eileen and Adam Boxer, Dr. Joel E. Hershey, Harry Kahn, Marilynn and Ivan Karp, and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Helen Levitt (American, 1913–2009). Boy with Bubble, 1972. Chromogenic (Ektacolor) print, sheet: 14 x 17 in. (35.6 x 43.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by Richard Menschel, Eileen and Adam Boxer, Dr. Joel E. Hershey, Harry Kahn, Marilynn and Ivan Karp, and Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 1990.66.2. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1990.66.2_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1990.66.2_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here. The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email and we will assist if we can.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.