Title

David Levine’s China

  • Mao Zedong, 1966; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Mao Zedong, 1966; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Deng Xiaoping, 1979; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Deng Xiaoping, 1979; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Deng Xiaoping, 1979; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Deng Xiaoping, 1979; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Jiang Zemin, 1997; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Jiang Zemin, 1997; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Ding Ling, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Ding Ling, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Jiang Qing, 1977; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Jiang Qing, 1977; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • John King Fairbank, 1982; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    John King Fairbank, 1982; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Fang Lizhi, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Fang Lizhi, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Liu Binyan, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Liu Binyan, 1989; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Pu Yi, 1988; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Pu Yi, 1988; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Zhao Ziyang, 1988; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Zhao Ziyang, 1988; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
  • Mao Zedong, 1969; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.
    Mao Zedong, 1969; Copyright Matthew and Eve Levine.

David Levine’s depictions of Chinese notables—and everyone else he drew, for that matter—are so sublime that very often after seeing an image, one is left hardly able to remember what the real person actually looked like.

Levine had way of catching exactly the right repose of a person’s mouth, what their eyes told of their souls, or the larger suggested meaning of their physiognomies that was able to make even these remote and larger than life Chinese figures suddenly seem real—even human. Nowhere was this quality more essential than among his renderings of China’s leaders whose authority so often derived from their creating an air around themselves of living on another plane that was above that of ordinary mortals.

Orville Schell