American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs 

Media - 2017.32.10 - SAAM-2017.32.10_1 - 133751

Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthals 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.

Description

American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs brings together six of the artist’s best-known bodies of work to explore some myths found in American popular culture and their place in our collective memory. Created between 1984 and 2018, the series Modern Romance, American Beauties, Wild West, Barbie, Baseball, and History all explore quintessentially American themes and imagery. The exhibition includes more than 70 color photographs drawn from two recent gifts to SAAM. The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, SAAM’s Deputy Education Chair, Head of Interpretation and Audience Research.

Visiting Information

June 7, 2019 October 14, 2019
Open daily, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Free Admission

Tour Schedule

Gund Gallery at Kenyon College
Gambier, OH
August 28, 2020 December 13, 2020
Dayton Art Institute
Dayton, OH
October 15, 2022 January 15, 2023

Videos

Credit

American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Margery and Edgar Masinter Exhibitions Fund, the William and Christine Ragland Family Photography Endowment, and the Bernie Stadiem Endowment Fund.

SAAM Stories

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10/13/2019
Giving America's favorite pastime a run for its money
This is an image of a woman next to the Stanley Cup with the capital in the background.
Kari Jones
Video Assistant
Media - 2018.3.190 - SAAM-2018.3.190_1 - 134538
08/21/2019
What does the "Cowboy Code" have to do with David Levinthal's photographs?
Shanti Boyle
Blog author in front of the David Levinthal image of Roberto Clemente
07/09/2019
Anne Showalter, digital interpretation specialist at SAAM, reflects on David Levinthal's photo of Roberto Clemente, from the artist's baseball series.
A photograph of Anne Showalter in front of Superhighway.
Anne Showalter
Digital Interpretation Specialist
A photograph of a horse on it's back legs with a man next to it.
06/04/2019
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.
A photograph of Howard Kaplan on a plane.
Howard Kaplan
Writer
David Levinthals's photograph of 3 Barbies in bathing suits
08/02/2019
Gymnast Gabby Douglas on the deeper meaning of looking at (and being) a Barbie.
Shanti Boyle
Media - 2018.3.71 - SAAM-2018.3.71_1 - 133830
10/09/2019
David Levinthal's photographs shine a light on the darkness of film noir.
Shanti Boyle

Podcast

Listen to "Memory, Myths, & Miniatures,” episode 6 from Sidedoor: A Podcast from the Smithsonian.

A graphic with four images. the back of a man in a cowboy hat, an old sign, a old television, and an animal skull.

Online Gallery

Media - 2018.3.56 - SAAM-2018.3.56_1 - 122756
Untitled, from the series Modern Romance
Date1985
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2018.3.71 - SAAM-2018.3.71_1 - 133830
Untitled from the series Modern Romance
Date1984
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.8 - SAAM-2017.32.8_1 - 133759
Untitled from the series American Beauties
Date1990
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.10 - SAAM-2017.32.10_1 - 133751
Untitled from the series American Beauties
Date1990
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.11 - SAAM-2017.32.11_1 - 122757
Untitled, from the series Barbie
Date1998
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.24 - SAAM-2017.32.24_1 - 133817
Untitled from the series Barbie
Date1998
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.30 - SAAM-2017.32.30_1 - 133822
Untitled from the series Barbie
Date1998
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.12 - SAAM-2017.32.12_1 - 133813
Untitled from the series Barbie
Date1997
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2018.3.203 - SAAM-2018.3.203_1 - 134617
Untitled from the series Wild West (sepia)
Date1998
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2018.3.178 - SAAM-2018.3.178_1 - 134537
Untitled from the series Wild West
Date1988
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2018.3.190 - SAAM-2018.3.190_1 - 134538
Untitled from the series Wild West
Date1989
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.36 - SAAM-2017.32.36_1 - 122754
Untitled, from the series Baseball
Date2004
instant color print
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.52 - SAAM-2017.32.52_1 - 134194
Untitled from the series Baseball
Date2004
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.49 - SAAM-2017.32.49_1 - 134195
Untitled from the series Baseball
Date2004
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.32.39 - SAAM-2017.32.39_1 - 134104
Untitled from the series Baseball
Date2003
Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film
Not on view
Media - 2017.41.30 - SAAM-2017.41.30_1 - 134093
Rough Riders from the series History
Date2014
inkjet print
Not on view
Media - 2017.41.12 - SAAM-2017.41.12_1 - 134090
Iwo Jima from the series History
Date2013
inkjet print
Not on view
Media - 2017.41.13 - SAAM-2017.41.13_1 - 134053
Dallas 1963 from the series History
Date2013
inkjet print
Not on view
Media - 2017.41.8 - SAAM-2017.41.8_1 - 134097
Helicopter from the series History
Date2014
inkjet print
Not on view
Media - 2017.41.10 - SAAM-2017.41.10_1 - 134099
The Searchers from the series History
Date2013
inkjet print
Not on view

Artists

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David Levinthal
born San Francisco, CA 1949

David Levinthal was born in San Francisco in 1949 into a rapidly changing post-World War II American society.