Gail Levin is Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. The acknowledged authority on the American realist painter Edward Hopper, she is author of many books and articles on this artist, including the catalogue raisonné and Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography. Her work on twentieth century and contemporary art has won international acclaim, been widely published, and translated in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Articles range from theory of artists’ biographies to explorations of the intersection of American and Asian cultural studies. She has also focused on the art of Jewish women artists in historical context. Her interest in women artists led to biographies of Judy Chicago (2007) and of Lee Krasner (2011). One project, Theresa Bernstein: A Century in Art, includes a book, (2013) a comprehensive website, and featured a touring exhibition. It is the product of her collaboration with several scholars including her doctoral students at the Graduate Center. Since the exhibition, two major canvases by Bernstein have entered the National Gallery in Washington. Among the many other museums which have added Bernstein’s paintings to their permanent collections are the Art Institute of Chicago and the Brooklyn Museum.
Gail Levin is also an artist and photographer. In her Hopper’s Places (1985, 1998) and Marsden Hartley in Bavaria (1989), she found and identified the art works and the exact places they depicted. She then photographed and analyzed how the painters transformed the scenes. These projects, which resulted in both books and exhibitions, she considers conceptual art, thinking along lines sketched by Sol LeWitt. “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” (Sol LeWitt”Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”, Artforum, June 1967.) As has happened with LeWitt’s wall drawings, others have emulated Levin’s photographs of Hopper’s scenes.
After research into the lives of other artists, Levin has produced a collage memoir that brings a singular perspective to her own life in art. Even while active as an art historian and curator, she was producing photographs, collages, paintings, and prints. Her collage memoir, “On NOT Becoming an Artist: A Retro-Spective,” begins with her earliest self-portrait and then shows and tells her story of growing up in the Deep South, where her parents threatened to disown her if she became an artist. Successive collages trace her journey into the worlds of museums and art history, exploring the sometimes-blurred lines between art, art history and criticism.
Levin can be reached at email@example.com