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Robert Levers Biography

LEVERS, ROBERT L., JR. (1930–1992). Robert L. Levers, Jr., painter, printmaker, and teacher, was born on April 11, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Gertrude (Burrow) and Robert L. Levers, Sr. He earned a B.F.A. in 1952 and an M.F.A. in 1961, both from Yale University. He began his career as a teacher at Whitney Art School in New Haven, Connecticut, worked at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York in the early 1950s, then served in the United States Navy as a gunnery officer until 1957. He taught at Yale for one year before accepting an appointment in the University of Texas art department in 1961. There he taught painting and drawing courses and won teaching-excellence awards in 1963 and 1984. Among his students were such talented artists as Luis Jiménez, Chuck Cooper, Millie Wilson, Carol Ivey, Phillip Wade, Cole Welter, and Judy Maxwell.

Levers's early work ranged from a brushy abstract expressionism to geometric abstractions inspired by Josef Albers, one of his teachers at Yale. A 1968 visit to Mexico City, where Levers witnessed attacks on students during the Olympic games and viewed Mayan ruins, prompted him to paint more representational, political works. Inspired by such Renaissance masters as Peter Paul Rubens and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, he developed a fluid, richly colored style that he used to dramatize improbable situations described by one critic as a "mixture of the playful and the apocalyptic." One series, for example, featured terrorists engaged in juggling and playing volleyball. Another series centered around the fancied destruction of Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas. Levers made a number of prints and was active with the Peregrine Press in Dallas and the Flatbed Press in Austin.

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