Builder Levy was born in Tampa, Florida in 1942, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BA in art from Brooklyn College (1964), where he studied painting with Ad Reinhardt, photography with Walter Rosenblum, and art history with Milton Brown. He studied the Photo League and the photography program of the Farm Security Administration in conjunction with his master’s degree in art education at New York University (1966). Close friendships with Paul Strand and Helen Levitt (during the 1970s) added insights into his role and possibilities as an artist.
Levy was awarded Fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Alicia Patterson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and others.
His three books are: Images of Appalachian Coalfields, with a foreword by Cornell Capa, Builder Levy Photographer, with an introduction by Naomi Rosenblum, and Appalachia USA (2014) about which Vanity Fair wrote: “Photographer Builder Levy (Appalachia USA—David R. Godine) does for today’s coal miners what Walker Evans did for sharecroppers and tenant farmers in the Dust Bowl.” His photographs are included in more than thirty other books of photographs.
His photographs are in more than 80 collections including the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, High Museum of Art, International Center of Photography, Chrysler Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas J. Watson Library, and the Bibliothèque Nationale.
Levy’s work has appeared in more than two hundred exhibitions, including more than fifty one-person shows. The High Museum of Art included some of his iconic photographs in Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968. The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City featured his photographs in Mongolia: Beyond Chinggis Khan. His Appalachia USA exhibition will open at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida in June 2015.
Among Levy’s major projects are New York City, where he was a teacher of at-risk adolescents for thirty-five years, central Appalachia, where for more than four decades he visited and photographed, Mongolia and other developing nations, across four continents, and demonstrations for civil rights and peace in the 1960s and the new millennium. (His Developing Nations exhibition at the Flomenhaft Gallery in 2012 was reviewed in Art News.) For more information go to: www.builderlevy.com.