Social realist artist Jack Levine was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts to Jewish parents who immigrated from Lithuania. The youngest of eight children, Levine began his art studies by the age of eight at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His teachers recognized his artistic talents and he was given financial assistance and a studio to work in by faculty member Denman Ross at Harvard University. Levine’s earlier work was influenced by his classmate Hyman Bloom. Both they and other artists such as Karl Zerbe formed their own artistic style known as Bostonian Expressionism. While still in high school, Levine was also given the privilege of having his work exhibited at Harvard’s Fogg Museum.
Like many artists during that time, Levine produced work for the Work Progress Administration (WPA) known as the Federal Art Project. Two of his pieces he completed for the WPA appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1936. Levine’s art portrayed a satirical yet harsh look at politics and urban life following World War I. He was drafted into the Army at the onset of World War II. Levine continued his social realist painting during the 1950’s and by 1960’s he also experimented with printmaking, but primarily focused on his paintings. He passed away in November 2010 at home in Manhattan.
Jack Levine’s work is now featured extensively worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, and numerous others. The Vatican purchased his painting titled Cain and Abel in 1973 and in 1989 a documentary was released entitled Feast of Pure Reason titled after his painting of the same name which he had received national recognition for in 1937 and now resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.