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Jack Levine papers, 1923-1999

Jack Levine papers, 1923-1999

Levine, Jack, 1915-2010

Painter

This site provides access to the papers of Jack Levine in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2015, and total 3,069 images.

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

Collection Information

Size: 3.2 linear feet

Summary: The papers of New York social realist painter and printmaker Jack Levine date from 1923-1999, and measure 3.2 linear feet. Levine's career is documented through biographical material, scattered letters, notes, and a speech, writings, student drawings, three scrapbooks, printed material, and nearly one linear foot of photographs of Levine, his family, and his colleagues.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jack Levine (1915-2010) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and worked as painter and printmaker primarily in New York City. Exponent of Social Realism during the 1930s. He resided in Boston until 1942. Married to painter Ruth Gikow. Graduated from Colby College, in 1946; taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and at the American Art School in New York. Levine served as President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Provenance

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

Funding

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

A Finding Aid to the Jack Levine Papers, 1923-1999, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.levijack
Author
Finding aid prepared by Jean Fitzgerald
Biographical/Historical note
Jack Levine (1915-2010) was born 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 taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the American Art School in New York, and 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 the Fogg Art Museum. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1956 on.
The D.C. Moore Gallery in New York City currently represents the Estate of Jack Levine.
Arrangement note
The collection is arranged as 7 series:
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1953-1955 (Box 1; 1 folder)
Series 2: Letters, 1946-1996 (Boxes 1, 5; 12 folders)
Series 3: Notes and Writings, 1961-1974 (Box 1; 6 folders)
Series 4: Artwork, 1923-1931 (Boxes 1, 5, OV 6; 11 folders)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1936-1962 (Boxes 1, 5; 16 folders)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1938-1999 (Boxes 1-3, 5, OV 6; 1.9 linear feet)
Series 7: Photographs, 1940-1998 (Boxes 3-5, OV 6; 52 folders)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of New York social realist painter and printmaker Jack Levine date from 1923-1999, and measure 3.2 linear feet. Levine's career is documented through biographical material, scattered letters, notes and a speech, writings, student drawings, three scrapbooks, printed material and nearly one linear foot of photographs of Levine, his family, and his colleagues.
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 are primarily typescripts about Jack Levine written by others. There is also a transcript of one 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 include 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, 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.
Provenance
Jack Levine donated his papers to the Archives in 1962, 1978, and 1999.
Processing Information note
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.
The collection was prepared for digitization, and the finding aid was updated, by Stephanie Ashley in June 2014 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2015 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include some photographs with copyright restrictions; some photos of works of art; duplicates; blank versos of photographs; exhibition catalogs of other artists; and some publications. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

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

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