David Levinthal is a central figure in American postmodern photography. Since 1972, he has photographed toys to explore the relationship between photographic imagery and the fantasies, myths, events, and characters that shape contemporary American’s mental landscape.
In David’s History series, he has created elaborate scenes of historical events, especially as they are depicted in movies and on TV. The compositions are reminiscent of famous images from art, literature, and visual culture, but they are not exact replicas. This both increases the realism of the scenario, in that the viewer interprets it as a moment before, after, or near the time of the iconic picture, and introduces a note of disjuncture, since the familiar image is not exactly “correct”. Levinthal then photographs the constructed scenes and creates large, history-painting-sized prints. The resulting works, in which notions of play and fantasy intermingle with historical memory, suggest, astutely and without judgment, the inevitable role that existing images play in our understanding of the past, its effect on us, and on our personal relationship to the course of history.
Over his illustrious career, Levinthal has created 22 photographic series’ including: Hitler Moves East (1977), Modern Romance (1984-86), Wild West (1988-89), Barbie (1998-99), Baseball (1998-2004) and Vietnam (2018-22). He is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. His work is in the collections of over 40 major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the National Gallery of Art and Corcoran Gallery of Art (both Washington, D.C.), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum and the Menil Collection.
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