Oral History: Les Levine in conversation with Anna Lena Seiser

From 11/06/2024

Artist talk
Online Program

On the occasion of Les Levine's solo exhibition Diamond Mind at the n.b.k. Showroom, a new contribution in the Oral History series was created, in which Levine discusses his career and his oeuvre with Anna Lena Seiser, Head of the n.b.k. Video-Forum. The conceptual artist and video pioneer Les Levine (*1935 in Dublin, lives and works in New York) is a seminal figure in the New York and international art scenes. Following his studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London in 1958, Les Levine emigrated to Canada, initially working as a jewelry designer and process designer. Since 1964, he has lived in New York. Levine’s eclectic oeuvre spans installations, photographs, videos, performances, and publications, as well as posters and billboards in public spaces. He was one of the first artists to work with the Sony Portapak camera starting in the mid-1960s, and developed the first closed-circuit video installation, Iris, in 1968. He introduced the term media art. Levine has deliberately avoided categorization or appropriation by the art market, and he rejects the notion of art-for-art’s-sake. His works share a common theme of critically examining mass media and pop culture phenomena and operations.

Les Levine in conversation with Anna Lena Seiser, 2024, 79:36 min

Levine has showcased his work in over 100 solo exhibitions worldwide and participated in Documenta (1977 and 1987) and the Venice Biennale (2001). He has lectured internationally, and written for publications including The Village Voice, Art in America, and the Saturday Review. As a professor and guest lecturer Levine has taught at several universities in the USA and Canada amongst them the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, Canada, the University of Illinois, the New York University, and as Distinguished Professor of Video Art at the William Paterson Universit in New Jersey. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974 and 1980. In 1970, he founded the conceptual art project Museum of Mott Art Inc., an advisory organization for artists and related professions in New York, where he still serves as president. His work is represented in numerous museum collections internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.