"Levin Joseph (1894-1979) New York School "composition""
New York school
"Composition years 60"
oil on canvas, signed on bottom right
dim: 56 x 44 cm.
The crossing of the twentieth century
(Saint Petersbourg 1894- Mazan 1979)
Joseph Levin was born in St Petersburg in 1894. After his studies in gymnastics, he went to the Imperial Institute of Painting, directed by Roerich.
He was taught by Resberg, Mascovici, Navozov and Fimon.
Later he moved to New York City, where his oldest brother lived since 1905 and where Joseph Levin studied at the National Academy of Drawing.
In February 1917, when he found out about the revolution happening in Russia, he came back to Petrograd and worked at the workshop of Resberg, his past teacher. Later in October, Levin left Petrograd for Moscow.
In 1919 he met the poet Sergei Essenin, the friend of his brother Vaniamin. In Moscow, he spends time with the painter Larionov and all of the russian avant-garde movement. He was conquered and agreed with the ideas in the Imaginist Manifesto published by Essenin.
In 1920 he moved to Cita in the extreme orient, where he learnt the technique of frescos and won a competition to decorate the walls of the leisure room of the University of Penza.
In 1922, he traveled to China where he exhibited his work in Tianjin. His study of Chinese calligraphy increased the graphic character of his art.
Levin returned to Moscow in 1923 and re contacted S. Essenin who was coming back from Paris with Isidore Duncan. After the death of Essenin, Levin watched over the body during the transport to Moscow and drew portraits based on his travel of which the originals are at the Literature Museum in Moscow.
In 1926, he got a visa to travel to Paris where he stayed till 1935. During his time in Paris, he had a workshop in the rue Bailou in Montparnasse where in addition to paintings, he designed costumes and sets for singers and russian ballets.
In 1935, he left to New York City and opened a workshop in Greenwich Village. It is there that he created a set of lithographies. His paintings evolved towards an abstract language. He elaborated his idea of a representation f the centrifuge force, the symbol of the Universal Movement that he called “sur-consciencilisme”. From 1950 to 1967, he exhibited his paintings in Paris, London, Amsterdam and in several towns in between Washington and New York.
He returned in 1969 to Moscow with an exhibition at the Literature Museum.
In 1970 he permanently settled down in Paris with his wife Bettina that shared his life for 43 years.
He created in January 1979 at the Grifo Gallery in Rome an anthological exhibition named “60 years of painting”.
He lived his final years in Mazan (Avignon) and died in 1979.
Joseph Levin was also a writer and a poet.
Par Augusto Callegari