Additional information on David Levine

December 30, 2014

The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power, Victor S. Navasky, Alfred A. Knopt, New York, 2013.
Navasky, longtime Nation editor (then owner and publisher), opens his book by talking about David Levine. In February 1984, David Levine called him because The New York Review of Books, which had been publishing his caricatures since its founding in 1963, felt his drawing of Kissinger’s “screwing” the world (depicted as a naked woman underneath him) too strong. Navasky agreed to run the drawing in The Nation, only to face staff protests of sexism. The Nation called a formal meeting to discuss the drawing. In recounting this story, Navasky gives an interesting glimpse of Levine’s nature and beliefs: “David being David, he said all the wrong things,” as he argued that caricature depends on stereotype. Navasky also describes Levine’s taking offense when a New York state senator wanted to buy a copy of a caricature from him, since he felt it meant he wasn’t doing his job well.

The Arts of David Levine, by David Levine and Thomas S. Buechner, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1978.
This book includes reproductions of Levine’s watercolors and caricatures. The only writing in The Arts of David Levine is Buechner’s foreword. Buechner gives us some basic biography, as well as information about Levine’s process, such as his technique of “schmearer” in oil or watercolor. And how he drew his caricatures on two-ply rag with a 2B lead pencil, went over the lines with India ink using a metal crow quill, and finished by erasing the original pencil drawing. Buechner notes that Levine regretted erasing the pencil. He tells us about some of the artists who influenced Levine: In caricature, there is Daumier, Nast, Dore, Kepler, and Doyle; in painting, Bonnard, Vuillard, Corot, Eakins, Pontormo, Goya, Rembrandt, Degas. Contemporary artists he particularly admired were Raphael Soyer (his veneration of the old masters, his compassion for his people) and Aaron Shikler (his ways of generalizing). In talking about Levine’s caricatures, he says that Levine was one of the most glorious draughtsman of our time. He calls for viewers who might be inclined to miss the full richness of Levine’s work (because of its “superficial resemblance to the work of others in the grand traditions of the past”) to take a closer look.

Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress, Abrams, New York, foreword by James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress.
Comics historian Harry Katz interviewed Levine in 2005 and adapts the interview into a chapter for this book. The short piece covers a lot of ground. Levine talks about how caricature is “useful in teaching people how to extend their statement concerning reality that they’re standing in the middle of.” He talks about trying to find a purpose by observing people working, playing, and observing. He refers to his paintings as his “novel.”

David Levine Past and Present: Paintings and Drawings from 1993 to 1998 (May 14–June 12, 1998 Forum Gallery show).
This catalog includes a brief introduction by Pete Hamill, and, at the end, some quotes by David Levine and a chronology/biography. Hamill’s lyrical introduction evokes Levine’s relationship to Coney Island as one in a line of artists infatuated with the place. He calls Levine’s eye “unsentimental but affectionate.”

“Levine in Winter,” David Margolick, Vanity Fair, November 2008.
This article is about Levine’s having been let go from The New York Review of Books in 2006. Only about a quarter of the article describes this late period in Levine’s career, however. Much more attention is given to describing Levine’s caricatures and their signature greatness.

A View From Here: The Artists of The Realist View and Their Art 50 Years Later, Dave Elder:
This documentary discusses the eleven realist artists who participated in putting together “The Realist View” show of the 1960s, which includes interviews with participant David Levine.

Portrait of a Lady, HBO Documentaries,
In 2006, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spent a full day posing for The Painting Group, a figurative art school founded by David Levine and Aaron Shikler in 1958. This film, directed by Neil Leifer, records this event. Levine is prominently featured as he paints O’Connor, critiques the work of the other painters, and talks about his experiences as an artist.

C-SPAN interview with David Levine, 10/28/08:
This video interview with Levine was conducted one year before he died and corresponded with the release of Levine’s book of caricatures of American presidents.

D. Levine Dot Commie:

A selection of the Painting Group portraits that were done of Sandra Day O’Connor (to include David Levine’s portrait):

David Levine gallery at New York Review of Books:

David Levine Wikipedia page:

Forum Gallery David Levine page:

D. Levine Ink:

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