Untitled from the series American Beauties

Media - 2017.32.8 - SAAM-2017.32.8_1 - 133759
Copied David Levinthal, Untitled from the series American Beauties, 1990, Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of an anonymous donor, 2017.32.8, © 1990, David Levinthal

Artwork Details

Title
Untitled from the series American Beauties
Date
1990
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
24 × 20 in. (61.0 × 50.8 cm)
Copyright
© 1990, David Levinthal
Credit Line
Gift of an anonymous donor
Mediums Description
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Classifications
Keywords
  • Allegory — quality — beauty
  • American
  • Landscape — beach
Object Number
2017.32.8

Artwork Description

The distinct look of the American Beauties series came about after a long day of shooting Western pictures at the 20x24 Polaroid Studio. Levinthal positioned a newly acquired pinup figure on a bed of sand leftover from his cowboy photos and removed the spray-painted Wild
West
background. He then photographed the solitary figure with dramatic lighting in a darkened studio. Levinthal loved the simplicity of the result and the sculptural quality of the tiny toys. The images are among the artist's most evocative and enigmatic--nocturnal beach scenes where the world of childhood innocence intersects with the world of adult experience.

Exhibitions

Media - 2017.32.10 - SAAM-2017.32.10_1 - 133751
American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs 
June 7, 2019October 14, 2019
Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthal’s photographs reference iconic images and events that shaped postwar American society. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which to examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. In doing so, Levinthal encourages us to consider the stories we tell about ourselves—what it means to be strong, beautiful, masculine, feminine, and ultimately, American.