SHARON — Artist Tom Levine, of Sharon (formerly Salisbury), died from complications of leukemia on April 4, 2020.
Mr. Levine was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received a BA in English from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio); a master’s degree in psychology from The University of Denver; and an M.F.A. in art history from the University of Cincinnati. It was at Miami University, under the guidance of Prof. John Weigel, that Mr. Levine was encouraged to paint his senior thesis rather than write it.
This led him to pursue painting, at first imitating the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, working in a dilapidated warehouse in downtown Cincinnati. Mr. Levine moved to New York in 1974 into a fourth-floor walkup on Greene Street in SoHo, sustaining himself by waiting tables. After his shift ended, he would paint into the early morning hours.
His work, often compared to the minimalist Agnes Martin, exhibits a reductivist style. But he went beyond minimalism to convey a kind of hidden language, an abstracted, perhaps primitive mode of communicating through paint. Muted colors, repetitive patterns, sensual recurring shapes, convey a language that the viewer struggles to understand.
Mr. Levine once told a friend, “My mother worked with the National Braille Association, and I would look at the text books for the blind students, and think about those dots, those patterns, how they communicate words without sight. I think what impresses us when we are young, is revealed when we are grown.”
Mr. Levine’s work may be seen in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York as well as several museums in Europe.
He is survived by his brother, James Levine; and sister, Janet Levine; and several friends. A celebration of his life will be held later this year.