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Josef Levi
Op Art 1971 Kinetic Oil Painting Pop Art Artist

1971

About the Item

Josef Alan Levi (1938) is an American artist whose works range over a number of different styles, but which are unified by certain themes consistently present among them. Josef Levi began his artistic career in the 1960s and early '70s, producing highly abstract and very modernist pieces: these employing exotic materials such as light fixtures and metallic parts. By 1975, Levy had transitioned to painting and drawing still lifes. At first these were, traditionally, of mundane subjects. Later, he would depict images from art history, including figures originally created by the Old Masters. Around 1980, he made another important shift, this time toward creating highly precise, though subtly altered reproductions of pairs of female faces which were originally produced by other artists. It is perhaps this work for which he is most well known. Since around 2000, Josef Levi has changed the style of his work yet again: now he works entirely with computers, using digital techniques to abstract greatly from art history, and also from other sources. Levi's works of art in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, the National Gallery of Art, and the Albright-Knox Museum, among many others. Levi's art has been featured on the cover of Harper's Magazine twice, once in June 1987, and once in May 1997. Josef Levi received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959 from the University of Connecticut, where he majored in fine arts and minored in literature. From 1959 to 1960, he served to a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and from 1960 through 1967 he was in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1966, he received the Purchase Award from the University of Illinois in 1966, and he was featured in New Talent U.S.A. by Art in America. He was an artist in residence at Appalachian State University in 1969, taught at Farleigh Dickenson University in 1971 and was a visiting professor of art at Pennsylvania State University in 1977. From 1975 to 2007, Levi resided in New York City. He now lives in an apartment in Rome, where he is able to paint with natural light as he was unable in New York. From 1959 to 1960, Josef took some courses of Howard McParlin Davis and Meyer Schapiro at Columbia University which initiated him into the techniques of reproducing the works of the Old Masters. His first works, created in the 1960s, were wood and stone sculptures of women. His first mature works were abstract pieces, constructed of electric lights and steel. In 1970, Levi's materials included fluorescent light bulbs, Rust-Oleum and perforated metal in addition to paint and canvas. By 1980, Josef Levi's art had transformed into a very specific form: a combination of reproductions of female faces which were originally depicted by other artists. The faces which he reproduces may be derived from either portraits or from small portions of much larger works; they are taken from paintings of the Old Masters, Japanese ukiyo-e, and 20th-century art. Artists from whom he has borrowed include: Vermeer, Rembrandt, Piero della Francesca, Botero, Matisse, Utamaro, Correggio, Da Vinci, Picasso, Chuck Close, Max Beckmann, Pisanello, Lichtenstein. The creation of these works is informed by Levi's knowledge and study of art history. Josef Levi's paintings from this period are drawn, then painted on fine linen canvas on wooden stretchers. The canvas is coated with twenty-five layers of gesso in order to produce a smooth surface on which to work. The drawing phase takes at least one month. Levi seals the drawing with acrylic varnish, and then he may apply layers of transparent acrylic in order to approximate the look of old paintings. After the last paint is applied, another layer of acrylic varnish is sprayed on to protect the work. Most of the figures in his contemporary pieces are not paired with any others. SELECTED COLLECTIONS MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK, NY ALBRIGHT- KNOX GALLERY, BUFFALO, NY ALDRICH MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, RIDGEFIELD, CT NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, DC BROOKLYN MUSEUM OF ART, BROOKLYN, NY SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY, WASHINGTON, DC CORCORAN GALLERY, WASHINGTON, DC UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME ART GALLERY, NOTRE DAME, IN ARKANSAS ART CENTER, LITTLE ROCK, AR HOOD MUSEUM OF ART, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, HANOVER, NH BANK OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK, NY CHRYSLER CORPORATION, DETROIT, MI EXXON CORPORATION, NEW YORK, NY AT&T CORPORATION, NEW YORK, NY BOWDOIN COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART, BRUNSWICK, ME NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, NEW BRITAIN, CN STORM KING ART CENTER, MOUNTAINVILLE, NY YALE UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM, NEW HAVEN, CT
  • Creator:
    Josef Levi (1938, American)
  • Creation Year:
    1971
  • Dimensions:
    Height: 23.75 in (60.33 cm)Width: 23.75 in (60.33 cm)
  • Medium:
  • Movement & Style:
  • Period:
  • Condition:
    minor wear. please see photos.
  • Gallery Location:
    Surfside, FL
  • Reference Number:
    1stDibs: LU38212980262
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