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HomeContents > People > Photographers > David Levinthal

Dates:  1949 -
Born:  US, CA, San Francisco
Uses miniature figures in artificial settings to recreate historical events (Hitler Moves East and Mein Kampf) or to reflect on social issues (The Wild West, Modern Romance, XXX and the Black Face series).

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Raised in California (art degree, Stanford 1970) Levinthal later earned an MFA at Yale where cartoonist, Garry Trudeau, was a classmate and early collaborator on the book, Hitler Moves East (1977), which featured Trudeauís text and Levinthalís table top photographs of toy soldiers in a mock-documentary style that was a precursor for the emerging post-modernist movement in photography. The use of toys, dolls, and scale models in the studio to produce faux documents that offer variable comment upon history and culture was a trademark of Levinthalís many themes and book publications in the 1980s and 1990s. Levinthalís progression of themes has evolved from sly parody of the Western cowboy to more barbed visual pronouncements about T&A pin-ups, bondage, the Holocaust, pornography, and racism. Each theme, usually displayed in saturated colors, has been an exegesis of spectator voyeurism. Using ambiguous space and thin slices of selected focus, Levinthal offers viewers an artificial body or dramatic pose that transforms cultural stereotypes into visual codes that viewers recognize as reminiscent of past memory ó perpetuated in modern society by toymakers and tchotchke vendors. Levinthalís most intense work (Desire, Mein Kampf, Blackface, XXX) has raised controversy when critics canít agree on the propriety of an artist who trumps history with seductive images that are interpretations of societyís coercion, lust, and depravity. 
(Author: Ken White - Rochester Institute of Technology) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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Bill Jay
David Levinthal 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Hoy, Anne H. 1987 Fabrications: Staged, Altered and Appropriated Photographs (New York: Abbeville) p.190 
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.220 [Includes a well written short biography on David Levinthal with example plate(s) earlier in book.] 
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