Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harry Levine

These drawings were all done by my grandfather, Harry Levine. He was trained (in Vilna) in the art of woodcarving to become a cabinet builder/furniture maker. Once arriving in Brooklyn as ayoung adult, he spent time at the Educational Alliance Art School, where his peers were other Eastern European immigrants such as Chaim Gross and Louise Nevelson. He took art classes at the Alliance and I believe it was a central part of his short life.
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Grandpa's drawings and etchings are as "sculptural" as his busts and other carvings. He also did a few paintings, but color was never really his thing. I believe these drawings were mostly used for etchings. Many of them have what looks like a conte rubbed on the back, which I assume had something to do with a process he used to transfer his drawings onto the etching plates. There's even a backward signature on the woman in the center above, which I believe is another hint that the drawing was used for an etching.

The central photo above is of him, and the photo to the right is a violin (or "fiddle") that he made, carved with a tree of life of its back. One of my brothers has the fiddle.
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Back to the Brooklyn Museum -The Educational Alliance donated two of his sculptures to the Brooklyn Museum. They are now housed in the Luce Center for American Art (Visible Storage - Study Center) on the 5th floor of the museum. This is the Luce Center:

It is very difficult to photo Grandpa's artwork, because the sculptures are displayed in floor to ceiling glass cases. One piece is on a top shelf (left, below) and one is on a bottom shelf (center, below).

Here they are on the Luce Center's computer:


If this interests you at all, I previously blogged about my grandfather and our search for a missing totem pole he carved in Croton-on-Hudson. Those posts, and images of the carvings he did in Croton can be found here:
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Anyone who can offer any info to help with our search, please let me know! The totem pole has not yet been found.
drawing by Harry Levine
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And by the way... we started the morning with a 2 hour delay (ice, ice, baby!!) and I decided to go in early. Halfway there, I got a call telling me school had been canceled. Argghh!! I came home and wrote this post, but am aggravated that I didn't keep going and have the day to get stuff done in my room. I'm setting up a show in the public library on Thursday, and since we've been on vacation all week I haven't even started name-tagging. Oh dear...

9 comments:

  1. SO AWESOME!!! What a great piece of family history! Beautiful and so talented. Thanks for sharing! My great grandmother was an amazing china painting artist!

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  2. The drawings are beautiful, phyl. So sensitive and full of character. And that fiddle is outstanding.
    I so wish the that you'll get news of that totem pole. Such a mystery, but I can imagine it stashed in a barn loft.
    Keep us posted on anything new that turns up.

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  3. Such a talented Grandpa!
    By the way, re. Op Art, yes, I think the large sq. graph paper and pre-cut circles will work well for your little ones. Sounds like a good idea to me:)

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  4. Thanks for sharing your grandfather's gorgeously detailed portraits.What an amazing talent! And the violin...WOW!

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  5. I am still hoping you find that totem pole!!

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  6. I find this so fascinating! So nice to see such awesome art and details! :)

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  7. Not only do I think your grandfather's story is awesome and his artwork incredible, but I think it is such a fabulous idea to include him in your blog and honor him in that way. My grandfather was a very incredible man as well, I have been thinking of writing a book about him. I love your granfather's carvings. Do you know him well? Did he teach you art as a child? So great that you have such a fabulous inspiration!

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  8. Sweet comments, everyone. Natalie, sadly neither I nor my older brothers ever met our grandfather. He died too young of Hodgkins disease.

    My wonderful grandma, also a Russian immigrant as a teen, raised my dad and aunt, as well as her 7 nieces and nephews (whose parents had died tragically)in a tiny Brooklyn apartment. Trained in the art of hand lace-making in Vilna, in NYC she worked in coat factory to support her family. My dad looked for the artistic "gene" in his children to continue the legacy of his deceased father; while one brother was very musical, the other lacked much talent in the arts at all, so daddy was very happy when his "baby" (me)was his artist-child. Sadly he's not here any more either.

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