Interview by Grant Drumheller visitor contributor
Arthur Levine is a painter (princestreetgallery.com/artist-page/arthur-levine/), former professor of Drawing Portray and Printmaking, and a longtime pal. I’ve recognized him since he and Petey Brown bought collectively again within the 1980’s. I’ve all the time recognized him as a devoted painter, repairing to his studio on the highest flooring of a brownstone in Park Slope Brooklyn.
Arthur grew up in Chicago and attended the College of Iowa the place he studied with Mauricio Lassansky. After receiving his MFA Arthur was awarded a Fulbright Grant to Paris. He stayed for an extra 12 months. From there he taught on the College of Illinois in Champagne Urbana, then at UCLA. He moved to New York from California along with his household to imagine a instructing place at Richmond Faculty, CUNY on Staten Island. Since early on, when he had recognition for his expertise he has largely labored within the “recognized” obscurity that defines many New York artists. On multiple event, I’d cease in at Petey and Arthur’s home solely to satisfy the likes of Robert Kulicke or Lennart Anderson or any variety of painters each female and male lively for lengthy intervals within the metropolis. Arthur exhibits on the Prince Avenue Gallery and has for a few years. Up till the pandemic, the Levine/Browns have been devoted gallery guests, searching for out outdated buddies and discovering them in odd locations (I bear in mind one night with them throughout a gap Thursday eve in Chelsea, bumping into the painter Ellen Lanyon on the road, and a hearty reunion occurring after many years- outdated buddies and colleagues.
Arthur Levine claims his personal floor in portray and drawing. His work is likely to be thought of a type of one-man tradition; his personal guidelines, rhymes, topics, method are deployed. I really like his work, and in my view, his most up-to-date work is his finest.
His work is characterised by saturated cloudlike patches of fractious and swirling pigment, and infrequently, if not all the time, a single object occupying a hard-fought location within the area–a biplane suspended in flight, a warship, a galleon in full ghostly sail, or a fort underneath a tormented sky. Supporting his painted photographs are volumes of exact and finely wrought line drawings, in an evenly regular and weighted line, once more like nobody else’s. Firmly drawn, even delicate, their high quality lies within the deft use of freshly sharpened HB pencils, utilized one after the opposite by the fistful, as to keep off any mushiness and blurring in that lovely line.
On the event of his upcoming present at Prince Avenue Gallery, April 26 till Might 21, 2022. I requested Arthur a little bit about his background and a number of the issues he’s striving for in his work, and infrequently how and why he comes again to the identical topics repeatedly.
Grant D: You have got such a singular studio, the one different one prefer it was Lennart Anderson’s that I do know of. You ascend to your studio chamber, under no circumstances like the remainder of your house – it’s utterly lower off, the home windows coated, cracks within the plaster and layers of mud, no references besides these you allow. Your studio appears to me to be lower off from all sense of the on a regular basis–do you assume that it has been essential in your work, that atmosphere?
Arthur L: I desire to manage the sunshine so I darken the home windows and use incandescent gentle. As for the mud, I assume I simply hate to brush up. My studio is lower off from “the on a regular basis” as a result of once I paint I’m diving into that huge pool of reminiscence, aspiration, inspiration, method, and most significantly, emotion and the closest to ineffable that I can get. Creating the atmosphere helps immensely.
Grant D: You taught for many years. Actually, Vija Celmins stated you have been her favourite trainer! Did the interplay together with your college students serve to make clear or rethink your individual work? Was studying method for college kids one thing you felt strongly about?
Arthur L: Working with college students was of immense worth: give and take, new material, completely different factors of view; all are vital to remain alert and dynamic as an artist. As for method, it’s only a pathway to expression and never one thing I ever consciously promoted.
Grant D: You frolicked in Paris within the early 1950’s. Do you know different artists, American or French, throughout that point? The Paris I bear in mind of 1973 is kind of completely different (I recall Les Halles was nonetheless standing). Are you able to inform me what it was like, the folks you met, occasions?
Arthur L: I acquired a Fulbright in 1950 to review in Paris. I economized and stayed till August 1952. I painted within the high flooring studio of the American Scholar and Artists Middle on Boulevard Raspaille and lived in Montparnasse. Within the summers I traveled throughout Europe drawing wonderful landscapes. I drew from the slagheap within the Borinage the place Van Gogh preached. The Fullbright fee was fantastic, arranging visits to Brancusi in his studio, a go to to Kandinsky’s house in Neuilly to satisfy his widow, and I met Hayter and LaCouriere, the printer of Picasso’s Minotaur Machier. I traveled with Ellen Lanyon and Roland Ginzel to London and Cornwall. However maybe my strongest reminiscence is of the political protests, demonstrations, and many others. in regards to the Marshall Plan, Soviet Jail Camps, l’affaire Henri Martin (in regards to the French in Vietnam).
Lastly, I purchased an exquisite 19th century etching press from the property of Louis Icart and had it shipped to Chicago, the place I then returned in 1952.
Grant D: It seems like a mythic time to have spent these years in Europe. Returning to the current, you talked about humor in your new physique of labor, may you develop on that?
Arthur L: Whereas improvising on a current image a determine popped out. I “noticed “ a pair of chaps which led to a “cowboy film,” It was a shock to me; I used to be bemused and comfortable to have discovered some humor. I really like that lightheartedness and good portray are usually not mutually unique. I additionally love the truth that that is the primary portray in years the place the human determine seems.
Grant D: Portray is a singular artwork, with twists and turns and moments of loss and recapturing. Generally issues occur and the portray is directing you. I really feel that “course of”, for need of a greater phrase, is what carries you in your portray. Are you able to remark?
Arthur L: My course of consists of altering, wiping, improvising, swiping, generally with my arms. That is how I flush out the half-formed concepts or at the very least am capable of higher visualize them. I hope that finally the method ennobles the picture.
Grant D: What points of those topics proceed to drag you again to them and make you wish to proceed to discover them additional?
Arthur L: I’m all the time making an attempt to develop and never contract….my childhood recollections of photographs of conflict, Lindbergh and his trajectory, and many others. have influenced my material. It’s a combination of reminiscence, distance, and delusion.
Grant D: You and Petey Brown have been collectively a very long time. How does being married to a different painter improve your work and your life?
Arthur L: I’ll say this as succinctly as doable. Having Petey, my spouse, at my aspect is like having a sympathetic however extra goal set of eyes; a unique viewpoint; and a willingness to precise her vital opinion. These are all qualities that I prize immensely. (and generally take note of).