Ed Levine

“The Foundation’s mission is an affirmation of the centrality of the artist in the world of art and the importance of finding ways to support their development.”

– Edward Levine (1935 – 2020)


In 2006, Ed Levine established the Harpo Foundation as an artist-endowed non-profit to support visual artists who are under-recognized by the field. The Foundation was and will continue to be Ed’s way to give ‘gifts of assistance’ to the field of art to reciprocate the generosity he received during his lifetime.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935, Ed’s career as an artist, educator, and benefactor spanned many decades. He received a BA from Yale University, MA and PhD degrees from NYU, and studied studio art at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid.

As an artist, Levine explored the relationships among sculpture, landscape, photography, and architecture with numerous temporary installations, exhibitions, and permanent public commissions including:

  • Exhibitions at Artists Space, New York City (1980), Atlanta Arts Festival (1988), Artpark, Lewiston, New York (1986), Boston Public Library (2001), and the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (1984).
  • Permanent Public Commissions at Garden Glen in Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA (1991), Embodying Thoreau in Pennypack Park, Philadelphia, PA (2003), and Floating Rocks: Looking into Time in Pusan, Korea (1994).
  • In 1991, he began his most significant project, Vermont Village in Royalton, Vermont. Situated on 10 acres in rural Vermont, the project comprises over 50 site-specific works in the landscape. Many works employ water; others incorporate photography, video and/or sound.

As an educator, Levine instituted and helped develop several visual art programs that extended the studio and classroom to include public space.

  • As Chair of the Art Department at Wright State University on Dayton, Ohio (1972-8), he established a visiting artist program that combined commissions to artists in campus public spaces, studio production and gallery installations. In addition he collaborated with the Dayton City Beautiful Council to establish a program of artists’ installations in city parks.
  • As Dean of Faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1987-81), and as Dean of the School of Art at East Carolina University (1982-9), he continued to integrate these components into the curriculum.
  • In 1989, he was invited to establish the Visual Arts Program at MIT, Cambridge, MA, which he directed until 1998. Initially an undergraduate offering, he developed it into a degree-granting graduate program with a focus on public art.

Ed Levine received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, among others and was an active contributor to the field, as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and various state and local arts organizations, as well as academic institutions, conferences, and forums. His publications include articles for journals in the arts and humanities like Artforum and Art Journal and the book-length essay Uncovering the Body (2005).