Israel Levitan (June 13, 1912 – May 17, 1982) was an American abstract expressionist sculptor, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Renowned as a sculptor, Levitan also produced paintings, graphics and fine art works on paper. The art critics of ARTnews selected his 1959 exhibition at the Barone Gallery in New York City, as one of the 10 best one-man exhibitions of the year along with Pablo Picasso, Hans Hofmann and Willem de Kooning.
After WW II he studied directly with Amédée Ozenfant and Hans Hoffman. Hofmann, recognizing the three-dimensional aspects of Levitan’s paintings, suggested that Levitan experiment with sculpture. Hoffman set out to find an appropriate teacher for his protégée and shortly thereafter Levitan commenced sculpture studies at the atelier of the French master Ossip Zadkine in Paris from 1950-51.
After returning to New York, Levitan set up a studio on East 9th Street and was quickly assimilated into the art scene, eventually becoming Vice President of the American Abstract Artists group. He exhibited his work in the Tenth Street galleries, along with such contemporaries as Gabriel Kohn, Raoul Hague, Sidney Geist, and Louise Nevelson. Unlike most of the artists who worked in wood during the fifties, Levitan had been a painter for many years (since 1938). The art critics of ARTnews selected his 1959 exhibition at the Barone Gallery in New York City, as one of the 10 best one-man exhibitions of the year. His wife Idee and he were very much part of the NY based Mid Century art community and counted among their personal friends many artists including Elaine De Kooning. In addition to prolific sculptor collections he also was commissioned to design the 45 foot abstract sculptured ceiling for the Chapel of the Interchurch Center in New York City. The carved plaster ceiling features 1,000 lucite disks through which light is projected thus providing a night canopy appearance. By the 1970’s Levitan decided his soul was better served living in working outside of New York and spent the remainder of his career off sculpting off the radar in Florida.
The gallery will show over 15 of his major pieces curated with information on his life and evolution of works.