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JOHN HARRISON LEVEE (American, 1924 – 2017), December V, 1960, Oil on canvas, Signed, titled, and dated upper right, ‘Levee December V 1960’ on the reverse, 12” x 12”, 12.5 x 12.5 5 inches framed
Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles

John Levee


(b. 1924)


Born 1924 in Los Angeles, California, he is an American abstract expressionist painter.  Levee received his Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the University of California in Los Angeles.  He fought in the Second World War as an aviator and participated in the Liberation of France in 1944.  He has lived and worked in Los Angeles, Paris and New York.  He currently lives in Paris, France since 1949.

After the war he decided to stay to work as a painter in Montparnasse, France.  He studied art at the Art Center School in Los Angeles and at Academie Julian in Paris from 1949 to 1951.  His early painting was inspired by the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, which included Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston, among others.  After a period of hard-edge painting based on geometric abstraction in the 1960s, Levee returned to his more spontaneous Abstract Expressionism style, often using collage elements with loose brush work typical of lyrical abstraction.

In recent years, the artist became interested in the use of mixed media on cardboard, assuming an abstraction further away from the geometric art to which he devoted much of his work.

He taught at the University of Illinois, NYU, Washington University, and the University of Southern California.

Selected Exhibitions
Exhibitions Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1957, 58
Brooklyn Museum, New York
Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut
Salon d’Automne, Paris, 1951
Salon de Mai, Paris, 1954
Salon des Realites Nouvelles, Paris, 1954-94
Salon Comparaisons, Paris, 1978-1992
Musee Thomas Berry, Cherbourg, France
Carnegie Institute, 1955-58
Corcoran Gallery Biennials, Washington, D.C., 1957-1963
Andre Emmerich Gallery, NY, NY, 1957-59, 62, 66
Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles,  CA 1970
Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, England, 1958, 60, 66
Galerie de France, Paris, 1962, 64, 69
Museum of Modern Art of Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel, 1963
Museum of Tel Aviv, Israel, 1969
Palm Springs Museum, 1977
Museum of Nice, France, 1980
Galerie Closerie des Lilacs, Paris, 1983, 86
Galerie Le Gall, Paris, 1986
Retrospective at Museum of Toulouse, France, 1983
Galerie Callu Merite, Paris, 1989, 90
Galerie 1900-2000, Paris, 1990
Phoenix Museum of Art, Phoenix, Arizona, 1964
Amerikanische Kunstler in Frankreich, (Exhibition of American Artists in France), Germany, 1956
Les Peintres GIs (The GI Painters), Paris, 1994, with John Franklin Koenig and Joe Downing to celebrate the Liberation’s 50th anniversary
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PAFA Annual), 1964
Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, 1957, 59, 65
Hanina Fine arts, London. 1990-2007
Galerie Le Musée Privé, Paris 1994-2007

Awards and Fellowships:
Awarded Purchase Award, Commonwealth of Virginia, 1966
Ford Fellowship, Tamarind Workshop, 1969
Woolmark Foundation; Grand Prix, First Biennial des Jeunes Artistes, Paris, 1959 Academie Julian, 1950