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Flaunt Magazine, April 1999
Sure to arouse controversy, Levinthal's examination of the art and attitudes of blackface memorabilia, now highly collectible and sought after even by African-Americans, maintains its sure footing even as it walks the razor's edge of objectivity.
Artforum/Bookforum, Summer 1999
The sweaty and glistening finish on Levinthal's garish Polaroids in Blackface suggests an imminent infernal meltdown, or that the artifacts depicted may be too hot to hold.
Of all of David Levinthal's previous series of photographs, none is more challenging and provocative than his Blackface series, created over the previous three years. Levinthal has used his toy collection to question national myths, our childhood dreams, and the stereotypes and misperceptions of race and cultural identity. In his blow-up images of miniature toys he has recreated scenes of racism, genocide, and sexual fantasies. This series explores the blackface myth embodied in "black memorabilia", household objects infused with African-American stereotypes. Perhaps the artist's most important works, these images make the blackface myth speak to us directly, without an intermediary, and demand a response from us regardless of our race, age, or gender. Levinthal's Blackface images present a paradox; one that pits the beauty of photographic representation against the racism underscored by these ignoble objects. Magnified with the 20 x 24 inch Polaroid camera, the Blackface pictures explore viewer subjectivity, and question the recent popularity of "black memorabilia" amongst the African-American intelligentsia and why the manufacture of these objects proliferated earlier in this century. The photographs are accompanied by an in-depth scholarly essay by noted writer, critic, and filmmaker Manthia Diawara, an expert on the representation of the African-American in film, photography, and popular media. This book promises to be make major contributions to contemporary African-American studies.
|Small Wonder: Worlds in a Box (American Scene (Washington, D.C.), 4,) |
David Levinthal; David Corey (Editor); & National Museum of American Art
|The Simpsons: Photographs by David Levinthal |
David Levinthal (Photographer); & Matt Groening (Introduction)