David Levinthal

David Levinthal is an American photographer who uses small toys and props with dramatic lighting to construct scenes of war, voyeurism, racial and political tensions, and American pop culture.

His work is included in the permanent public collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. He has had solo exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon.

Levinthal has produced a diverse oeuvre, utilizing primarily large-format Polaroid photography. His works touch upon many aspects of American culture, from Barbie to baseball to X-rated dolls. He creates miniature scenarios using shoeboxes, cardboard, and foam core to make miniature offices, hotel rooms, pool halls, foyers and narrow corridors. These shadowy and dark scenes expose the secrecy and intimacy of small spaces. Levinthal is particularly interested in exploring the different emotions that each scene produces, such as reactions to an office corridor in contrast to those of a hospital or a private bedroom. Indeed, there is an inherently voyeuristic aspect to many of his early works.

With the use of photography, Levinthal animates his small toys, sometimes to the point of artificially created movement. On his toy use, Levinthal said that “Toys are intriguing, and I want to see what I can do with them. On a deeper level, they represent one way that society socializes its young.” Furthermore, Levinthal is aware of the power of toys: “Ever since I began working with toys, I have been intrigued with the idea that these seemingly benign objects could take on such incredible power and personality simply by the way they were photographed. I began to realize that by carefully selecting the depth of field and making it narrow, I could create a sense of movement and reality that was in fact not there.”

See more at David Levinthal’s official website.

All images © David Levinthal.

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