Richard Levitt, photographer and digital artist
Richard admires great photographers, and has been fortunate to study with some of the best. His teachers include Ansel Adams, Ralph Gibson, Barbara Morgan, Wright Morris, Olivia Parker, John Sexton, and Jerry Uelsmann.
His earliest images were of rural landscapes, and dealt with the unintentional alterations made by time, neglect, and weather. Eventually he became interested in altering the photographs themselves, first by using Jerry Uelsmann’s darkroom techniques, and later by recombining print elements and painting them with watercolors or photo oils. These alterations progressed to the scenes before the camera, where—influenced by Olivia Parker—he composes still-life combinations of found objects.
This progression led him inevitably to the computer, and the infinite possibilities of digital media. Beginning with photographs taken by himself and by others, Richard adds colors and transforms compositions to make surprising new works. He says, “Using computer tools gives me incredible freedom. I can experiment with ideas and learn from my mistakes much faster than I ever could in the darkroom. And I can change what the eye sees—new kinds of expression are possible digitally that were never available to me through wet methods.”
Impressed by the long print life achieved by Ansel Adams and John Sexton, Richard has carried the archival printing tradition into the digital era. He prints exclusively on 100% cotton rag paper, using permanent pigment-based inks. Mounted under UV-blocking glass, his large, carefully crafted prints are expected to last a century or more.
Richard’s most recent work includes a study of Marilyn Monroe, called Reconstructing Marilyn. He uses original black and white photographs by Life Magazine staff photographer Allan Grant as a platform for digital variations. Mr. Grant’s pictures, published by Life in August 1962, are among the last taken of Marilyn before her death. Richard’s digital prints merge old media and new, creating a reflection of Marilyn’s remarkable life.
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