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 Ruth Levine Gikow  (1915 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: New York / Ukraine/Russian Federation      Known for: Figurative expression, landscape painting

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Ruth Gikol is primarily known as Ruth Levine Gikow

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Ad Code: 3
Ruth (Mrs. Jack Levine) Gikow
An example of work by Ruth Gikol
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography is from George Krevsky:

Ruth Gikow was born in the Russian Ukraine, the daughter of Boris and Lena Gikow. When she was five, her family emigrated to the Lower East Side of New York. With a zest for living she never lost, she overcame the language barrier quickly and survived the teeming streets, diverting her tough cronies with chalk drawings on the sidewalk. She won distinction for her artwork at Washington Irving High School, which had one of the strongest art departments in New York City.

At age 17, Gikow entered Cooper Union Art School and studied under two well known regional artists, Austin Purvis, Jr. and John Steuart Curry.  She continued her studies under Raphael Soyer and held an impromptu showing of her earliest paintings in the lobby of the Eighth Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village.  After art school, she received funding for four years from the WPA's Federal Arts Project.

In 1939, she was commissioned to paint murals for the children's ward at Bronx Hospital, Riker's Island and Rockefeller Center. With some associates, she helped found the American Serigraph Society, which turned out a volume of original graphics within the range of people of modest means.

Following World War II, after a brief career in commercial art, she met and married Jack Levine. Challenged by his dedication and commitment, she returned to her own painting and drawing with renewed vigor. She illustrated Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and began to exhibit at New York's Weyhe Gallery, Grand Central Galleries, Nordness Gallery, Forum Gallery and the Kennedy Galleries. Her endless quest to find humanity in a turbulent and sometimes hostile environment led art critic Henry-Russell Hitchcock to describe her as one of the country's "ten outstanding women painters." Her own figurative style was nurtured when she and her husband traveled Europe, studying Old Master works, the wall paintings of Pompeii and the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna.

Gikow's work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Portland Museum of Art, Maine, National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, Hartford Arts Foundation, Connecticut, and the Butler Art Institute, Youngstown, Ohio.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for historical and current events genre in caricature style, she focused on social problems, ranging from empathy for working class in the 1930s to smoking marijuana in the 1980s.

She was born in the Ukraine of Russia and persecuted during the Jewish pograms, her family emigrated when she was five years old to New York City and lived in New York's Lower East Side.

Early she decided to be a fashion artist and worked at Woolworth's store while taking art classes at Washington Irving High School. Unable to find employment in her chosen field, she took more classes at Cooper Union Art School, studying with John Steuart Curry and Raphael Soyer, and then got a mural painting job with the Federal Art Project. Later she worked for an advertising agency, but quit when she married expressionist artist Jack Levine during World War II.

Following her marriage, she became dedicated to her fine art and was represented at the Grand Central galleries. A trip to Italy also gave her more subject matter. She raised a daughter and this turned her attention to problems of young people growing up in the fifties and sixties.

Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Artists

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