William Leavitt presents a tableau installation with a group of related drawings. These are the major forms of Leavitt's work along with corresponding scripts and theatrical performances. Leavitt's art revolves around fictional scene-setting that alludes to a filmic or fantasy storyline but never completes it. Elements of location, period, character, costume and ambience are defined by isolating essential details with minimum elaboration. The drawings and the installation embody the suggestion of the complex of favors that comprise a total environment. The current work centers around a pseudo scientist-magician in a desert setting. His accoutrements of space-age effects, contemporary magic tricks, and architectural and decorative details of home and laboratory are presented. The tableau is a physical manifestation of one of the drawings and might function also as a stage set for one of Leavitt's theatrical productions. The precise articulation of detail in Leavitt's work ultimately suggests more than it defines. It leaves the viewer to attach a "story" that satisfies the ambiguity of his presentation.
"What Leavitt is doing is to isolate elements of the subtext of any Hollywood movie, those spaces and objects and gestures invested with an ambiguous psychological content, the elements which serve to carry the audience along with the story on an almost subliminal level… It is the gap between a story and its telling which seems to attract Leavitt. He virtually discards narrative, retaining only what is essential to indicate the situation. Instead all of his attention is focused on the representation; or those details, pregnant with meaning, which silently fill out any tale." — Thomas Lawson, Real Life Magazine
"[Leavitt's work] is an effective exercise in evoking a literary world with an economy of means." — William Wilson, The Los Angeles Times
William Leavitt was born in 1941 and studied at the University of Colorado and Claremont Graduate School; he currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He has had one-person exhibitions in Los Angeles at Claire Copley Gallery and Larry Gagosian Gallery; the Long Beach (California) Museum of Art; Artists Space, New York; Art & Project Gallery, Amsterdam; Francoise Lambert Gallery, Milan; and Kabinett Fur Aktuelle Kunst, Bremerhaven, West Germany. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art; and the Penthouse Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art.
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