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David Levine | The Nation

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David Levine

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David Levine, who died on December 29 at 83, was best known for his brilliant, biting, crosshatched caricatures of literary and political figures, which until his vision gave out had appeared regularly in The New York Review of Books ever since it was launched in the early 1960s. Once, when The New York Review turned down as "too strong" (David's words) a caricature he had committed of Henry Kissinger, he paid us the compliment of offering it to The Nation. Although it caused controversy within the Nation office--it showed Kissinger on top and the world, depicted as a woman, being violated by him under an American flag blanket--luckily for us we ran it, and subsequently it found its way into art exhibitions around the country and ended up on the cover of a Harvard art catalog. When The Nation ran a story about neo-Nazis in the United States, Levine's cover illustration showed Uncle Sam with Der Führer's mustache. Despite his sometimes savage visual commentary, David was a kind man and a constant source of support to his fellow artists. He was also a great teacher, funny, a bemused observer of the passing scene, deeply subversive and an astonishingly talented Realist painter whose renderings of Coney Island and warm and sympathetic portrayals of the workers in his father's garment shop were a striking counterpoint to his world-famous political illustrations. His son Matthew has set up a memorial blog in David's honor, which he calls D. Levine Dot Commie.

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