jack levine (1915-2010)

A couple weeks ago, the art world lost one of my heroes in Jack Levine.  Like another of my idols, Alice Neel, Levine worked against the grain as a mid-century realist.  The highly pivotal and agitprop (as the CIA recently disclosed to the Independent) movement of Abstract Expressionism, which single-handedly brought the epicenter of art from Europe to New York, all but snuffed out with extreme prejudice any trace of realism at the time, along with the dying genre’s scab creators.  With stubborn-headed persistence, Levine, and few others, weathered the storm of abstraction’s cerebral propaganda, and even flourished in some capacities, with an ability to speak to broader audiences by way of representational depiction and searing social commentary that was intellectually narrative, while at the same time visually accessible.  Levine, specifically, painted his deeply cynical sentiment of the human condition in regards to politics and wealth with scathing canvases of plutocratic paradigms: large Titian-esque tableaus of fat, wasteful gluttony.  In both these regards, it’s no wonder his work has resonated with the populace.   It takes gumption to be dissident politically, and even more to be dissident occupationally.  I greatly admire the immeasurable impact Levine’s life and work has had on my own, as well as his impact on the greater concept of Truth.

-Joel Sager


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