by David Levinthal, from the series Hitler Moves East and XXX.
“Ever since I began working with toys, I have been intrigued with the idea that these seemingly benign objects could take on such incredible power and personality simply by the way they were photographed”
“I began to realize that by carefully selecting the depth of field and making it narrow, I could create a sense of movement and reality that was in fact not there.”-David Levinthal
His initial success came early with his series Hitler Moves East. The collection depicts the German invasion of Russia in 1941. Levinthal grew grass seed in potting soil on a plywood table to represent the Russian Steppes. He had to trim it every week with scissors. After that other amazing series followed, including a series of Barbie (the doll) and a erotica series entitled XXX (one image from the series is shown above). See more images here and at the artist website.
… “It started without his exactly willing it. One night he took a mat knife and started cutting into shoe boxes, cardboard, and foam core. Joining the pieces at the corners with tape, he began to arrange them to suggest a miniature office, hotel room, pool hall, foyer, or a narrow corridor viewed through a doorway. He was intrigued by what emerged without much conscious direction and by how little he needed to produce an effect.
His big hands were clearly unsuited to the task of fashioning what the reveries called forth. Completely absorbed, he had no difficulty. Besides, he was satisfied with constructions of the crudest sort. Paste-togethers, they were for himself alone, nothing he would have wanted to show family or friends. Nor were they anything that fanatics of the small, among model-railroad hobbyists or dollhouse aficionados, would have admired for their intricacy or seamless true-to-life detail.
The spaces were suggestive, fragments of larger unseen wholes. Excited, feeling his way, he contrived diners, motel exteriors, garden apartments. He was in love with their promise of narrative. It inspired him with a plan: all he needed to do was make the sets look good enough to be photographed.
They had to contain certain specifics. From hobby shops he bought a selection of wallpaper in tiny designs he liked “Dauphine,” a pink French stripe, but he used many others. Plagued by a bleeding gut, he had a fondness for the refuge of bathrooms; for a miniature of one of these, he cut a shower curtain from clear acetate and decorated it with colored-dot adhesives. He cut up pink dollhouse flooring, called “Nostalgia,”11 that simulated bathroom tiles. He used a larger black-and-white or red-and-white check for pavement alongside what took shape as a motel swimming pool, a newspaper kiosk, a restaurant, or a forties-style jive joint. He got hexagonal tile for subway stops and plastic brick for streets.”
— excerpt from Eugenia Parry’s article on David Levinthal.