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Starting in the 1930s, American artist Jack Levine became known for his social realist paintings, which used satire to shine a light on the harsh modern world.
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In a sign of the piece's power, the work was condemned by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Levine continued to work as a social realist painter in the 1950s and '60s, even when abstract art (such as the work of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko) became popular. "Election Night" (1954), a sardonic look at the underbelly of politics, and "Birmingham '63," a scene of African-American men being attacked by police dogs,
were other important works of his middle career.
In the 1960s, Levine experimented with printmaking, though he continued to work primarily as a painter. The 1939 death of his devout father had inspired Levine to begin painting ancient Jewish leaders and from time to time he returned to biblical subjects. Levine also remained interested in contemporary social issues. Later works—such as the large-scale painting titled "Panethnikon" (1978) and the group portrait "Finger of Newt" (1993-98)—were acerbic portrayals of national politicians and world leaders.
At the age of 95, Levine died at his home in New York City on November 8, 2010. He left behind an impressive legacy; his art had been the subject of retrospective exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Jewish Museum in New York and the Brooklyn Museum. Today, many of his creations are owned by major museums across the United States.
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