David Levinthal

American, b. 1949

Untitled from the series Wild West, 1998

Polaroid Polacolor ER Land Film

Gift of Engart, LLC

© David Levinthal


Thirty-six of David Levinthal’s large-format polaroid pictures were generously gifted to the Berman Museum in 2017. These photographs from Levinthals’ Wild West series were a significant addition to the museum’s growing contemporary photography collection. Lucky Seven is the first exhibition to display a selection from the Wild West series.

David Levinthal is known for various photographic series that utilize toy miniatures. The selected photographs from Wild West are not meant to be a historically accurate depiction of the American Southwest, but rather they function in response to nostalgia and the haze of memory.

The playful, at times dramatic, and often even dark photographs reflect Levinthal’s memory of watching westerns on a box television set. The high-contrast and bold color choices heighten the mood of these photographs, making them all the more theatrical in their presentation, and thus distancing them from the more realistic color palette of the actual South Western landscape. Levinthal’s staging of his toy cowboys and Indians reflects how we continuously create and re-create the past for ourselves. The memory of a boy romanticizes the past, just as American history is mythologized in the collective consciousness of many.

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