Levine originally intended to be a comic-book artist, but his parents sent him to Tyler School of Art to pursue a career as a painter. The scenes of garment workers—plying their trade and enjoying moments of relaxation—that Levine presented in his first solo show in New York in 1953 reflected a concern for social issues that persists in his paintings as well as in his caricatures. In the late 1950s Esquire’s Clay Felker saw some of Levine’s caricatures, and soon he was drawing for Esquire, The New York Review of Books, and other prominent magazines. Despite his international fame as a caricaturist, however, Levine considers himself “a painter supported by … satirical drawings” and a traditionalist who has learned a great deal from Rembrandt. Basing much of his work on nineteenth-century models, Levine nevertheless captures the immediacy of the stop-action moment in his portraits, beach scenes, and figure studies.
Virginia M. Mecklenburg Modern American Realism: The Sara Roby Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press for the National Museum of American Art, 1987)