American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
Place of publication, production, or execution:
3.2 linear feet
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of New York social realist painter and printmaker Jack Levine date from 1923-1999, and measure 3.2 linear feet. Levine's career is documented through biographical material, scattered letters, notes, and a speech, writings, student drawings, three scrapbooks, printed material, and nearly one linear foot of photographs of Levine, his family, and his colleagues.
Found within the papers are two driver's licenses and several biographical accounts, and scattered letters from colleagues including one each from John Taylor Arms, Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, René d'Harnoncourt, Lloyd Goodrich, Jacob Lawrence, and Homer Saint-Gaudens discussing various art-related events. There is only one carbon copy of a letter written by Levine. The correspondence includes oversized photographs of the members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Additional photographs of the members are found in the Photograph series.
Notes and writings primarily consist of thesis typescripts about Jack Levine. There is also a transcript of a speech, "Jack Levine Speaks Regarding the Donation of 108 of his Drawings to the Archives" delivered by Levine at the Fogg Art Museum.
Artwork consists entirely of Levine's student drawings including anatomical studies, neighborhood genre scenes, copies of Old Masters, and a series of images of symphony musicians. Some of the drawings display themes that are reflected in his later paintings.
Three scrapbooks contain clippings that document Levine's career and reflect his political interests. Additional printed material consists of a comprehensive collection of clippings and exhibition announcements and catalogs. There is also an announcement for a lecture by Levine, press releases, calendars of events, reproductions of artwork, programs, brochures including one for "Facing East," a portfolio of Levine's prints, and three books.
Photographs comprise the most important series in this collection, represented by numerous photographs of Levine throughout his artistic career, including images of his wife, painter Ruth Gikow, their daughter Susanna, and colleagues including Hyman Bloom, Leonard Bocour, Alexander Dobkin, Joachim Probst, Sidney Simon, and Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Especially notable is a series of photographs of Levine printmaking with Emiliano Sorini and Ruth Gikow.
There are photographs of Levine serving on art juries and panels with Eleanor Coen, Joseph Hirsch, Gabor Peterdi, Studs Terkel, and Max Weber, and attending events with Lawrence Fleischman, Betty Friedan, Edith Halpert, Mauricio Lasansky, Gypsy Rose Lee, Pope Paul VI, and Raphael Soyer. A small album contains photographs of Levine and various buildings in Boston. There are also photographs of miscellaneous exhibition installations including Levine's retrospective at the Jewish Museum, and of artwork by Levine and others.
Group photographs of the members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters are found here, and include Will Barnet, Paul Cadmus, Chuck Close, David Levine, George Tooker, and John Updike. Additional group photographs of the members that were originally enclosed with letters are found in the correspondence series.
Jack Levine papers, 1923-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2015 and is available on the Archives of American Art's website. Materials which have not been scanned include some photographs with copyright restrictions; some photos of works of art; duplicates; blank versos of photographs; exhibition catalogs of other artists; and some publications. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages scanned.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Jack Levine (1915-2010) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and worked as painter and printmaker primarily in New York City. Exponent of Social Realism during the 1930s. He resided in Boston until 1942. Married to painter Ruth Gikow. Graduated from Colby College, in 1946; taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and at the American Art School in New York. Levine served as President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Jack Levine donated his papers to the Archives in 1962, 1978, and 1999.
This site provides access to the papers of Jack Levine in the Archives of American Art that were digitized in 2015, and total 3,069 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001