David Levinthal:
XXX – Noir et Blanc

May 3 – September 14, 2015

 

David Levinthal continues his ongoing fascination with toys and models as cultural objects, blurring distinctions between fantasy and reality, this time using erotically charged figures of women.

 
 

For years, David Levinthal has used toys in his photography to question perceptions of cultural identity. Earlier this year, Mana Contemporary exhibited Levinthal’s groundbreaking 1970s work, Hitler Moves East, a powerful restaging of events from World War II using toy soldiers.

For Levinthal’s new XXX series, black and white pigment prints of 20-by-24-inch Polaroids depict nude and scantily clad female dolls in suggestive poses; some are dressed in bondage and fetish lingerie. Through the blurred lens of Levinthal’s magnified frame, body parts appear out of darkness, forcing viewers to reflect upon their own loaded notions of eroticism, voyeurism, fantasy, and feminism.

At first glance, the work appears to be photos of actual women, perhaps captured in a strip club or seedy motel. In fact, the objects pictured are no more than 16 inches tall, sourced from science fiction and fantasy model kits and then expertly painted. Levinthal’s use of selective focus, angle, and lighting breathe life and sensuality into the inanimate figures. By zooming in on these material objects, Levinthal asks viewers to consider them as cultural artifacts, opening new dialogues on female sexuality, the male gaze, emotional emptiness, and sex without intimacy, among other themes.

About David Levinthal:
David Levinthal, born in San Francisco in 1949, has been working with toy figures and tableaux as the subject matter for his artwork since 1972. In January of 1997, the International Center of Photography presented a survey of his work from 1975 to 1996. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and was named a 1995 Guggenheim Fellow. His work is included in numerous museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, and The Menil Collection.

 

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