Jack Levine papers, 1923-1999

A Finding Aid to the Jack Levine Papers, 1923-1999, in the Archives of American Art, by Jean Fitzgerald

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Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art

Table of Contents:



Biographical Information

Jack Levine was born on January 3, 1915 in Boston, Massachusetts and worked as painter and printmaker primarily in New York City. Levine was one of the leading painters and advocates of the Social Realism School of the late 1930s.

Jack Levine was the youngest of the eight children of Lithuanian Jewish parents, Mary Grinker and Samuel Levine. After the family moved from the South End of Boston to Roxbury in 1923, Levine began to study drawing under Harold Zimmerman at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. By 1929, Levine was studying painting under Denman Ross of the Fogg Art Museum.

From 1935-1940, Levine received U.S. government support from the federal Works Progress Administration. His first exhibition of paintings in New York City was at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1937, he painted The Feast of Pure Reason, a satire of Boston political power. Together with Ben Shahn, Levine became a leading exponent of the Social Realism School of the late 1930s. His first one-man show was held at the Downtown Gallery in New York City in 1938.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Levine was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1945, and a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters the following year. Also in 1946, Levine married painter Ruth Gikow and moved to New York City. Between 1950 and 1951, he was a Fulbright Fellow working in Rome where he was inspired by Old Master paintings. In the 1960s Levine's interest in printmaking intensified and he was instructed in creating intaglio prints by Emiliano Sorini and was introduced to Abe Lublin who was associated with the New York Graphic Society.

Levine has taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the American Art School in New York, and at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and at the Fogg Art Museum. He has also been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1956.

Jack Levine is currently represented by the D.C. Moore Gallery in New York City.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of Jack Levine measure 3.2 linear feet and date from 1923-1999. The collection documents Levine's career as a social realist painter and printmaker. Found within the papers are two driver's licenses and several biographical accounts, and scattered letters from colleagues including one each from John Taylor Arms, Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, René d'Harnoncourt, Lloyd Goodrich, Jacob Lawrence, and Homer Saint-Gaudens discussing various art-related events. There is only one carbon copy of a letter written by Levine. The correspondence includes oversized photographs of the members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Additional photographs of the members are found in the Photograph series.

Notes and writings primarily consist of thesis typescripts about Jack Levine. There is also a transcript of a speech, "Jack Levine Speaks Regarding the Donation of 108 of his Drawings to the Archives" delivered by Levine at the Fogg Art Museum.

Artwork consists entirely of Levine's student drawings including anatomical studies, neighborhood genre scenes, copies of Old Masters, and a series of images of symphony musicians. Some of the drawings display themes that are reflected in his later paintings.

Three scrapbooks contain clippings that document Levine's career and reflect his political interests. Additional printed material consists of a comprehensive collection of clippings and exhibition announcements and catalogs. There is also an announcement for a lecture by Levine, press releases, calendars of events, reproductions of artwork, programs, brochures including one for Facing East, a portfolio of Levine's prints, and three books.

Photographs comprise the most important series in this collection, represented by numerous photographs of Levine throughout his artistic career, including images of his wife, painter Ruth Gikow, their daughter Susanna, and colleagues including Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, Alexander Dobkin, Joachim Probst, Sidney Simon, and Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Especially notable is a series of photographs of Levine printmaking with Emiliano Sorini and Ruth Gikow.

There are photographs of Levine serving on art juries and panels with Eleanor Coen, Joseph Hirsch, Gabor Peterdi, Studs Terkel, and Max Weber, and attending events with Lawrence Fleischman, Betty Friedan, Edith Halpert, Mauricio Lasansky, Gypsy Rose Lee, Pope Paul VI, and Raphael Soyer. A small album contains photographs of Levine and various buildings in Boston. There are also photographs of miscellaneous exhibition installations including Levine's retrospective at the Jewish Museum, and of artwork by Levine and others.

Group photographs of the members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters are found here, and include Will Barnet, Paul Cadmus, Chuck Close, David Levine, George Tooker, and John Updike. Additional group photographs of the members that were originally enclosed with letters are found in the correspondence series.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 7 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:

Subjects:

  • Dobkin, Alexander, 1908-
  • Halpert, Edith Gregor, 1900-1970
  • Hirsch, Joseph, 1910-
  • Peterdi, Gabor
  • Simon, Sidney, 1917-
  • American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters

Subjects-Topical:

  • Painting, American
  • Social realism
  • Painting, Modern -- 20th century -- United States
  • Jewish artists
  • Painters -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Painters -- Massachusetts -- Boston
  • Printmakers -- New York (State) -- New York

Types of Materials:

  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Student drawings
  • Scrapbooks
  • Writings

Names:

  • Arms, John Taylor, 1887-1953
  • Barnet, Will, 1911-
  • Bocour, Leonard, 1910-
  • Close, Chuck, 1940-
  • Levine, David, 1926-
  • Goodrich, Lloyd, 1897-
  • Weber, Max, 1881-1961
  • Bloom, Hyman, 1913-
  • Saint-Gaudens, Homer, b. 1880
  • Terkel, Studs, 1912-
  • Tooker, George
  • Soyer, Raphael, 1899-1987
  • Gikow, Ruth, 1915-
  • Simon, Sidney, 1917-
  • Paul VI, Pope, 1897-1978
  • Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-1970
  • Updike, John
  • Coen, Eleanor, 1916-
  • Cadmus, Paul, 1904-1999
  • Lawrence, Jacob, 1917-
  • D'Harnoncourt, Rene, 1901-1968
  • Lasansky, Mauricio, 1914-
  • Yevtushenko, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich, 1933-
  • Probst, Joachim
  • Sorini, Emiliano
  • Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997
  • Friedan, Betty

Provenance

Jack Levine donated his papers to the Archives in 1962, 1978, and 1999.

How the Collection was Processed

Accessions were minimally processed upon receipt and portions were microfilmed on reels 4873-4874. Previously microfilmed and unmicrofilmed portions were merged, arranged, and described by Jean Fitzgerald in August 2008 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Jack Levine papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

Available Formats

Portions of this collection are also available on 35mm microfilm reels 4873-4874 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the collection as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm.

How to Cite this Collection

Jack Levine papers, 1923-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1953-1955
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Biographical material consists of two driver's licenses and several brief biographical accounts.

Box Folder
1 1 Driver's Licenses and Biographical Accounts, 1953-1955, undated

Series 2: Letters, 1946-1996
(Boxes 1, 5; 11 folders)

Scattered letters are primarily from colleagues including John Taylor Arms, Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, René d'Harnoncourt, Lloyd Goodrich, Jacob Lawrence, and Homer Saint-Gaudens.

Box Folder
1 2 Letters, undated
1 3 Letters, 1946-1958
1 4 Letters, 1960
(See Also Box 5)
1 5 Letters, 1965-1968
1 6 Letters, 1970-1974
1 7 Letters, 1975-1977
1 8 Letters, 1978-1979
1 9 Letters, 1980-1985
1 10 Letters, 1990
1 11 Letters, 1992-1994
(See Also Box 5)
1 12 Letters, 1996
(See Also Box 5)
Box
5 (sol) Oversize Museum of Modern Art Announcement Enclosed in Letter Dated 1960 June 8, undated
5 (sol) Oversize Photograph of Members of American Academy of Arts and Letters Enclosed in Letter Dated 1994 June 27, undated
5 (sol) Oversize Photograph of Members of American Academy of Arts and Letters Enclosed in Letter Dated 1996 July 8, undated

Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1961-1974
(Box 1; 6 folders)

Notes and writings primarily consist of typescript thesis about Jack Levine. There is also a transcript of a speech given by Levine at the Fogg Art Museum, and miscellaneous notes and writings.

Box Folder
1 13 Miscellaneous Notes and Writings, 1961-1962, undated
1 14 Typescript of Speech at Fogg Art Museum: "Jack Levine Speaks Regarding the Donation of 108 of his Drawings to the Archives," undated
1 15 Thesis Typescript "The WPA Paintings of Jack Levine" by Henry Arnold Freedman, 1967
1 16 Typescript "Jack Levine and the Aesthetics of Discontent" by Aaron Miller, 1967
1 17 Thesis Typescript "Jack Levine: Career of an American Artist" by Patricia Allen Robbins, 1969
1 18 Dissertation Typescript "Jack Levine: Painter and Protester" by Henry Freedman, 1974

Series 4: Artwork, 1923-1931
(Boxes 1, 5, OV 6; 11 folders)

Artwork consists of Levine's student drawings including anatomical studies, neighborhood genre scenes, and copies of Old Masters.

Box Folder
1 19 Drawings, undated
(See Also Box 5)
1 20 Drawings, 1923
(See Also Box 5)
1 21 Drawings, 1924
1 22 Drawings, 1925
(See Also Box 5)
1 23 Drawings, 1926
1 24 Drawings, 1929
(See Also Box 5 and OV 6)
1 25 Drawings, 1930
(see also Box 5)
1 26 Drawings, 1931
(see also Box 5)
1 27 Drawings of Symphony Musicians, 1930-1931
(see also Box 5)
Box
5 (sol) One Oversize Drawing, undated
5 (sol) Two Oversize Drawings, 1923
5 (sol) Two Oversize Drawings, 1925
5 (sol) Two Oversize Drawings, 1927
5 (sol) Two Oversize Drawings, 1928
5 (sol) Eleven Oversize Drawings, 1929
5 (sol) Nine Oversize Drawings, 1930
5 (sol) Four Oversize Drawings, 1931
5 (sol) Five Oversize Drawings of Symphony Musicians, 1931
Box
OV 6 One Oversize Drawing, 1929

Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1936-1962
(Boxes 1, 5; 16 folders)

Three scrapbooks contain clippings that document Levine's career and reflect his political interests.

Box Folder
1 28-33 Scrapbook 1, 1936-1949
(6 folders; See Also Box 5)
1 34-38 Scrapbook 2, 1950-1960
(5 folders; See Also Box 5)
1 39-40 Scrapbook 3, 1960-1962
(2 folders; See Also Box 5)
Box
5 (sol) Fifteen Oversize Pages from Scrapbook 1, 1936-1949
5 (sol) Fifteen Oversize Pages from Scrapbook 2, 1950-1960
5 (sol) Twelve Oversize Pages from Scrapbook 3, 1960-1962

Series 6: Printed Material, 1938-1999
(Boxes 1-3, 5, OV 6; 1.9 linear feet)

Printed material consists of clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, an announcement for a lecture by Levine, press releases, calendars of events, reproductions of artwork, programs, brochures, and books.

Box Folder
1 41 Clippings, undated
(See Also Box 5)
1 42 Clippings, 1938-1941
1 43 Clippings, 1943-1945
1 44 Clippings, 1946
1 45-46 Clippings, 1947
(2 folders)
1 47 Clippings, 1948-1949
1 48 Clippings, 1950-1953
1 49 Clippings, 1954-1955
1 50 Clippings, 1956
1 51 Clippings, 1957-1958
1 52 Clippings, 1959
1 53-55 Clippings, 1960
(3 folders)
1 56 Clippings, 1961
1 57 Clippings, 1962
1 58 Clippings, 1963
1 59-60 Clippings, 1964
(2 folders)
1 61 Clippings, 1965
1 62 Clippings, 1966
1 63 Clippings, 1967
1 64-66 Clippings, 1968
(3 folders)
1 67-68 Clippings, 1969
(2 folders)
1 69 Clippings, 1970
1 70 Clippings, 1971
1 71 Clippings, 1972
1 72 Clippings, 1973-1975
1 73 Clippings, 1977
1 74 Clippings, 1978
1 75-76 Clippings, 1979
(2 folders)
Box Folder
2 1 Clippings, 1980-1985
2 2-3 Clippings, 1986
(2 folders; see also Box 5)
2 4-5 Clippings, 1987
(2 folders)
2 6 Clippings, 1988-1989
2 7 Clippings, 1990-1994
2 8 Clippings, 1995-1996
2 9 Clippings, 1997-1998
2 10 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, undated
2 11 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1939
2 12 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1945
2 13 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1947
2 14-15 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1948
(2 folders)
2 16 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1949
2 17-18 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1950
(2 folders)
2 19 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1951-1952
2 20-22 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1955
(3 folders)
2 23 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1956
2 24 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1957
2 25-26 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1959
(2 folders)
2 27 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1960-1961
2 28 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1962
2 29-30 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1963
(2 folders)
2 31-32 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1964
(2 folders)
2 33 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1965
2 34 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1966
2 35-36 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1967
(2 folders)
2 37-38 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1968
(2 folders)
2 39 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1969
2 40 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1972
Box Folder
3 (hol) 1 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1977-1979
3 (hol) 2 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1983-1987
3 (hol) 3 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1990-1992
3 (hol) 4 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1993
3 (hol) 5 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1995-1998
3 (hol) 6 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs for Others, 1960-1980
3 (hol) 7 Press Releases, 1960-1979
3 (hol) 8 Calendars of Events, 1968-1999
3 (hol) 9 Reproductions of Artwork, undated
(see also Box 5)
3 (hol) 10 Programs, 1966-1999
3 (hol) 11 Brochures for Facing East Portfolio of Levine's Prints, 1972
(See Also Box 5)
3 (hol) 12-13 Miscellaneous Brochures, 1959-1972, undated
(2 folders)
3 (hol) 14 Book Americans 1942 Published by the Museum of Modern Art, 1942
3 (hol) 15 Book Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art, 1942
3 (hol) 16 Book The Jew: Quest 2, 1964
Box
5 (sol) Oversize Clippings, undated
5 (sol) Oversize Clippings, 1986
5 (sol) Twenty-Six Oversize Reproductions of Artwork, undated
5 (sol) Oversize Brochure for Facing East Portfolio of Levine's Prints, 1972
Box
OV 6 Oversize Announcement for Lecture by Levine, 1962

Series 7: Photographs, 1940-1998
(Boxes 3-5, OV 6; 52 folders)

Photographs are of Levine, his wife Ruth Gikow, their daughter Susanna, and colleagues and friends including Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, Eleanor Coen, Alexander Dobkin, Lawrence Fleischman, Betty Friedan, Edith Halpert, Joseph Hirsch, Mauricio Lasansky, Gypsy Rose Lee, Gabor Peterdi, Pope Paul VI, Joachim Probst, Sidney Simon, Raphael Soyer, Studs Terkel, John Updike, Max Weber, and Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. There is a series of photographs of Levine printmaking with Emiliano Sorini and Ruth Gikow. Photographs of members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters include Will Barnet, Paul Cadmus, Chuck Close, David Levine, and George Tooker. Additional group photographs of the members that were originally enclosed with letters are found in the correspondence series. An album contains photographs of Levine and various buildings in Boston. There are also photographs of exhibition installations and of artwork by Levine and others.

Box Folder
3 (hol) 17 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1940-1947, undated
(See Also Box 5)
3 (hol) 18 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1948-1949, undated
3 (hol) 19 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1950-1952, undated
(See Also Box 5)
3 (hol) 20 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1953
3 (hol) 21 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1958
(See Also Box 5)
3 (hol) 22 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1959
3 (hol) 23 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1960-1966
(See Also Box 5)
Box Folder
4 (hol) 1 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1968-1969
4 (hol) 2 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1971
4 (hol) 3 Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1972-1979
4 (hol) 4 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1982
4 (hol) 5 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1985
4 (hol) 6 Photographs of Jack Levine, 1986
4 (hol) 7 Photograph Album, circa 1986
4 (hol) 8-9 Photographs of Family Members, 1955-1982, undated
(2 folders)
4 (hol) 10 Photographs of Ruth Gikow, 1940-1966
4 (hol) 11 Photographs with Colleagues: Hyman Bloom, undated
(See Also Box 5)
4 (hol) 12 Photographs with Colleagues: Alexander Dobkin, undated
4 (hol) 13 Photographs with Colleagues: Joachim Probst, 1966
4 (hol) 14-17 Photographs with Colleagues: Levine Printmaking with Emiliano Sorini, undated
(4 folders)
4 (hol) 18 Photographs with Colleagues: Yevgeny Yevtushenko, undated
4 (hol) 19 Photographs with Colleagues: Levine on a Panel with Studs Turkel, Max Kahn, and Eleanor Coen, undated
4 (hol) 20 Photographs with Colleagues: Levine on Miscellaneous Art Juries, 1960, undated
4 (hol) 21 Photographs with Colleagues: Seminar The Influence of Spiritual Inspiration in American Art Sponsored by the Vatican Museums and the Smithsonian Institution, 1977
4 (hol) 22 Photographs with Colleagues: Filming of Jack Levine: Feast of Pure Reason by David Sutherland, 1985
4 (hol) 23 Photographs with Colleagues: Levine at a Party with Leonard Bocour and Sidney Simon, 1985
4 (hol) 24-25 Photographs with Colleagues: Levine with Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1992-1998, undated
(2 folders; see Also Box 5 and OV 6)
4 (hol) 26-31 Photographs with Miscellaneous Colleagues including Leonard Bocour, Betty Friedan, Edith Halpert, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sidney Simon, and Raphael Soyer, 1945-1994, undated
(6 folders)
4 (hol) 32 Photographs of Exhibition Installations at Carnegie Institute, 1945-1950
4 (hol) 33-34 Photographs of Retrospective Exhibition Installation at the Jewish Museum, 1978
(2 folders)
4 (hol) 35 Photographs of Miscellaneous Exhibition Installations, undated
4 (hol) 36-39 Photographs of Artwork: Paintings, undated
(4 folders)
4 (hol) 40 Photographs of Artwork: Drawings, undated
4 (hol) 41 Photographs of Artwork: Prints, undated
4 (hol) 42 Photographs of Artwork by Others, undated
4 (hol) 43 Miscellaneous Photographs, 1982, undated
Box
5 (sol) Oversize Photograph of Jack Levine by Irving Penn, 1947
5 (sol) Three Oversize Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1950-1952
5 (sol) Two Oversize Photographs of Jack Levine, 1958
5 (sol) Two Oversize Photographs of Jack Levine, circa 1960-1966
5 (sol) Seven Oversize Photographs of Levine with Hyman Bloom, undated
5 (sol) Three Oversize Photographs of the Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1992, 1993, and 1995
Box
OV 6 Oversize Copy of Photograph of the Members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1997