Aaron Levine, Main Conceptual Artwork Collector, Dies at 88 – ARTnews.com


Aaron Levine, a retired trial attorney, who along with his spouse, Barbara, gathered one of the vital important non-public holdings of labor via Marcel Duchamp, died on Tuesday morning at George Washington College Clinic in Washington, D.C. He used to be 88. 

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Lawn showed Levine’s passing, writing in a observation, “The Hirshhorn mourns the lack of Aaron Levine, a really perfect pal, artwork lover and chief. At the side of his loved spouse Barbara, Aaron remodeled the Hirshhorn’s everlasting assortment via sharing their twinned pastime for conceptual artwork, particularly thru their 2018 promised present of 35 works via Marcel Duchamp, with the country. He understood the Hirshhorn’s challenge and radical gestures. We’re indebted to Aaron’s public carrier, his wit and knowledge, and shall by no means fail to remember him.”

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Gallerist Suzanne Tarasieve attends the Lafayette Anticipations Cocktail Party on March 5, 2018 in Paris, France. She is wearing a bright orange coat, a black beret, red lipstick, and a Black frilled shirt. She died on December 27, 2022 at age 73.

The Levines, who had been indexed on ARTnews’s Most sensible 200 Creditors checklist each and every 12 months from 2012 to 2018, packed their Washington, D.C. house with masses of artworks and hundreds of similar catalogues and uncommon artist books, lots of them involved in heady Conceptualism and the motion’s fresh successors. “Conceptual artwork is an got style,” Aaron as soon as mentioned. 

A number of the artists they amassed had been Donald Judd, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner, On Kawara, Bruce Nauman, Christian Marclay, Rebecca Horn, Juan Muñoz, Ragnar Kjartansson, Douglas Gordon, Ana Mendietta, Tony Cragg, Thomas Schutte, and Marina Abramović and Ulay. In addition they had a vital pictures assortment, with Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Thomas Struth, Thomas Call for, and Cindy Sherman represented in it. 

The couple did, on the other hand, achieve paintings via positive blue-chip artists, together with Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Andy Warhol; Warhol’s portrait of Joseph Bueys hung above their mantle and a collection of 10 Warhol portraits of Chairman Mao in the main bed room. Every other Warhol hung in Aaron’s regulation place of job, as did different spillover from the gathering. 

For the reason that artwork they owned used to be so disparate in relation to mode and eras, the Levines hated when other folks known as their holdings a “assortment”; Aaron instructed Artnet Information in 2018 that his most well-liked time period for it used to be “melange.” 

In an interview, broker Sean Kelly, an established pal and an adviser to the Levines, mentioned, “Aaron used to be completely distinctive—and distinctive throughout the artwork international. He used to be a really perfect patron of the artwork within the old-school sense of the phrase. He and Barbara traveled everywhere the arena repeatedly. They had been indefatigable—maintaining with them used to be each a problem and a excitement. As soon as he found out fresh artwork, his lifestyles took a fully other flip, and it outlined the rest of his lifestyles. For me, he used to be the center and soul of the artwork international—and the mindful on the identical time. I don’t assume we’ll see the likes of him once more.”

However, the center of all of it used to be Duchamp. They owned greater than 35 works via the artist, together with a number of of his maximum necessary one from throughout her profession. Amongst those had been his signature readymades and assisted readymades, lots of which had be recreated and editioned within the Sixties after lots of the originals have been destroyed: Hat Rack (1917/64), Comb (1916/64), Apolinère Enameled (1917/65), With Hidden Noise (1916/64), L.H.O.O.Q. (1919/64), and Why No longer Sneeze? (1921/64). 

Moreover, in addition they owned a number of drawings and pictures via Duchamp, in addition to a 94-part suite of notes, drawings, and pictures associated with Duchamp’s magnus opus, The Bride Stripped Naked via Her Bachelors, Even (1915–23), which is completely housed on the Philadelphia Museum of Artwork. 

“[Duchamp] shifted the phenomenon of artwork from the thing to the theory,” Aaron instructed the Washington Publish in 2011. “It redefined artwork for me. It took it out of the retina and put it within the mind.”

Every other primary piece via Duchamp within the Levine assortment used to be Boîte-en-valise (1941), a suitcase containing small copies of the artist’s most renowned works in addition to one distinctive paintings. It used to be their first Duchamp acquire. They’d observed it at Sean Kelly’s New York gallery, and Aaron insisted on purchasing it. “It used to be about two decades in the past. And the obsession’s been an elevator journey. I’m at the 15th flooring and there are about 80 flooring to move,” Aaron mentioned in a joint 2018 interview with Hirshhorn senior curator Evelyn C. Hankins. 

“We had this very specific dialog discussion about Duchamp for lots of, a few years,” Kelly instructed ARTnews. “As soon as he found out Duchamp he dedicated to [the artist’s work] in some way that only a few other folks did. Aaron would do plenty of analysis and skim each and every newsletter, each and every e-book, each and every article, he may just get at the topic that he used to be engaged with. Within the latter a part of his accumulating lifestyles, Duchamp become the nice pastime.” 

On most sensible of the entire Duchamp fever, they visited each and every important web page associated with Duchamp’s lifestyles in Europe, they usually reportedly had stenciled on all in their bathrooms a reproduction of the autograph “R. Mutt,” which Duchamp had infamously scrawled onto an upside-down urinal and titled The Fountain (1917). “We by no means pass in the hunt for one thing, rather then via Duchamp. Anything else that’s via Duchamp, Aaron has to shop for as a result of he’s mad for it,” Barbara added within the Hankins interview. 

In 2018, the Levines introduced that they’d donate greater than 50 works, together with their greater than 35 Duchamps, to the Hirshhorn. Integrated within the present had been the ones iconic readymades and necessary drawings, in addition to over 150 books associated with the artists and works via different artists who had some dating to Duchamp, together with Rachel Harrison, Irving Penn, Tristan Tzara, and others. 

On the time, the museum known as the present transformative; its Duchamp holdings at the moment are on par with the ones of the Philadelphia Museum of Artwork and the Museum of Trendy in New York. The donation used to be the topic of an exhibition that went on view on the Hirshhorn in 2019. 

Aaron M. Levine used to be born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York. His father ran an optometry store in Bushwick; Barbara’s father ran a pharmacy down the road. They met as youngsters after Aaron’s circle of relatives moved onto the similar flooring of the condo construction the place Barbara’s circle of relatives lived.

He attended regulation faculty at George Washington College. Per week after she graduated from Skidmore Faculty in Upstate New York, Barbara moved to D.C. and the 2 married. In 1971, he based his eponymous regulation company, which involved in quite a lot of kinds of shopper rights complaints as they associated with unhealthy medication, faulty units, and scientific malpractice. 

The Levines began accumulating over 3 a long time in the past, starting with German Expressionism and Social Realism, purchasing works via Max Beckmann, Ralston Crawford, and Philip Evergood. “I used to be fascinated about the Nineteen Thirties, the rebellion along side the Nazis and the way that turmoil mirrored itself in artwork,” Aaron instructed the New York Occasions in 2019. Barbara most well-liked Minimalism.

However with time, he would quickly heat to extra outré modes of creative expressionism, and the 2 would gather ferociously.

“Conceptual artwork doesn’t provide the leap that visible artwork will give you, however it comes on higher later,” Aaron instructed the Wall Side road Magazine in 2015. “All of it comes out of Duchamp. There’s not anything of the hand of the artist, there’s not anything of the fabrics of the artist. However he is taking a hat rack out of the ironmongery shop, and he places it within the museum. And with that one act he attracts the curtain down at the Renaissance.”



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