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More about Steve Levin


Steve Levin is a still life painter, working primarily in oils.  Levin received his BA from Reed College and his MFA from the University of California, Davis.  He has exhibited paintings nationally including shows at Lyons-Weir Gallery in Chicago, van de Griff Gallery in Santa Fe, Jamison-Thomas Gallery in New York, and Telegraph Hill Gallery in San Francisco.  Levin is a Professor of Art Emeritus at Williams College, where he taught courses in painting and drawing for 27 years.

A number of Levin's still lifes are based on the format of a "curiosity cabinet”, containing detailed objects, both invented and painted from life, arranged in conversation with each other. More recent paintings include works done on copper which are cut to shape, adding an element of illusion by eliminating the frame separating the painted world from the real world.





My pictures could be usefully described as paintings of collections, though the unifying principles of the collection are not always entirely literal. Instead, the juxtaposition of objects might suggest interrelationships that can extend from the formal (“objects all of a similar scale”) to the expressive (“a collection of serious playthings”), or the result might even suggest some sort of portrait of a fictional owner of the collection.

Many of the forms in the pictures are painted from actual objects but others are visualizations of invented forms that don’t actually exist in the “real world.”  In that sense, some of the paintings may have an element of surrealism and possibly even elements that might seem dreamlike. Plato says in the Sophist "Should we not say that we make a house by the art of building, and by the art of painting we make another house, a sort of man-made dream produced for those who are awake?"  I suspect that I read this in a sense different from that which Plato intended; but I would be gratified to see the paintings in those terms, as “dreams for the waking.”


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