Populated with toy cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players, David Levinthal’s photographs reference iconic images and events that shaped postwar American society. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which to examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. In doing so, Levinthal encourages us to consider the stories we tell about ourselves—what it means to be strong, beautiful, masculine, feminine, and ultimately, American.
American Myth & Memory: David Levinthal Photographs brings together six of the artist’s best-known bodies of work to explore some myths found in American popular culture and their place in our collective memory. Created between 1984 and 2018, the series Modern Romance, American Beauties, Wild West, Barbie, Baseball, and History all explore quintessentially American themes and imagery. The exhibition includes more than 70 color photographs drawn from two recent gifts to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.