David Lefkowitz

David Lefkowitz grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where, while in high school, he first studied painting with Vanderbilt Professor Emerita Marilyn Murphy. In the early 80’s he was a founding member of the quasi- legendary pop combo The Young Nashvillians. He earned a B.A. from Carleton College in Northfield, MN in 1985, and after a three-year stint as assistant exhibit preparator at Cheekwood, returned to school for a M.F.A. in Visual Art from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1990.  He has been teaching painting and drawing at Carleton, his undergraduate alma mater, since 1997. Recent solo exhibits include “Austerity Plans” at the Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis, “Other Positioning Systems" at the Rochester (MN) Art Center, and gallery shows in New York and Chicago. Lefkowitz counts among his honors two McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest grant, a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, and a Carleton Distinguished Alumni Award. His work is represented in several collections, including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Langen Foundation in Neuss, Germany, and the Perez Art Museum in Miami.




David Lefkowitz is represented in The Professors by work from three signature series - Tangle, Corrugated Drawings and Pictures of Common Detritus.


The paintings in the Tangle series feature plant forms, painted in a style reminiscent of 19th century botanical illustration or floral paintings by artist like Martin Johnson Heade, entangled with a chaotic assortment of cables and wires. These stand-ins for the natural world and the human-built infrastructure awkwardly co-habit the same space. In many of the paintings, as in the biotechnologically “enhanced” world in which we live, it is difficult to tell where nature stops and human engineering begins. Many of the depicted plants are considered weeds, and the compositions suggest uncontrolled random growth.

Corrugated Drawings

The Facilities and 1705 E. Roscoe are examples from a series of watercolor drawings on corrugated cardboard that depict structures that read simultaneously as abstract geometric forms, literal renderings of stacks of cardboard boxes and architectural plans.

The idealized “plans” refer to the utopian project of modernist architecture- the assertion of a universal language of form, and yet, they also imply more pedestrian but utterly practical approaches to constructing shelter, as they suggest alternative uses of a readily available waste product of consumer culture- cardboard. The makeshift dwellings depicted hint at two poles of adaptive re-use.  One, an architecture of possibility- children’s forts- the cardboard box as basic unit for play and invention, and two, an architecture of necessity: the cardboard box as rudimentary shelter for the least well-off.

Pictures of Common Detritus

Pictures of Common Detritus are a series of very small still life paintings of very small objects usually displayed in a gallery scaled for regular-sized paintings.

“Lefkowitz plays with the inversion of scale and status in “Pictures of Common Detritus” (2000/2009), a series of small, though life-size oil portraits of found bits of trash and debris. Framed in prefabricated ornate golden frames, purchased from a local hobby shop, each tiny painting is a detailed study of the chosen figure: small clumps of dust or plaster, lint, pencil shavings, a wad of chewed gum, a lone Cheerio, a twist tie, a dead fly. They are painted with dramatic lighting, multiple glazes and undercoating, and chiaroscuro modeling…. From far back they look indistinguishable, a fitting first impression given the usually overlooked, forgotten subject matter. But curiosity draws a viewer in, where they are either pleasantly surprised or mildly disappointed (“all this for old gum?”). The artist’s gentle joke pokes fun at the romantic aspirations of the painter to make grand paintings but the care with which the portraits are painted saves them from being simply one- liners.”  -Jan Estep, from Other Positioning Systems

Lefkowitz’s work in painting, installation, and mixed media (including cardboard, sticks, sheetrock and Styrofoam) addresses paradoxes of perception both monumental and mundane. Much of his work explores the blurry boundary between the human-built environment and the natural world. Lefkowitz aims to create work that involves both transformation and transparency. Much of his work addresses expectations about how art is experienced in specific institutional contexts. Fixtures, which appeared in Lifelike at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, are small paintings of slightly misshapen wall sockets and security monitors interspersed stealthily throughout a gallery or museum. At first glance (if noticed at all) they appear as non-art objects- peripheral support features, but up close they’re clearly paintings, so they ‘belong’.



Selected Exhibitions             

One (and two) person shows

          2016    Ambulatory Nirthfolde Information Dispensary

                      Perlman Teaching Museum, Northfield, MN

          2014  Austerity Plans   Soo Visual Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

          2013  Nirthfolde Visitor’s BureauNorthfield Arts Guild, Northfield MN

           2011    Facilities and GroundsCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

          2010    at or below see levelThomas Barry Fine Arts, Mpls, MN

         2009   Other Positioning Systems Rochester Art Center, Rochester, MN

                      New CultivarsCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

        2007    Tangle Thomas Barry Fine Arts, Minneapolis, MN

                     Oblivious to Place Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, TN

        2006    Breach (installation) Gould Library, Carleton College, Northfield, MN

        2005    make more small plans  Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

                     Topics for Further Discussion  (with Stephen Mohring)  

                      Carleton College Gallery, Northfield, MN

        2004    Improvised StructuresDCKT Contemporary, New York, N

                     La Videbla Mondo Thomas Barry Fine Arts, Minneapolis, MN

       2002    The Surrounding AreaNo Name Gallery at the Soap Factory,  Mpls, MN

                     CultivarsThomas Barry Fine Arts, Mpls, MN

        2001    Building MaterialismFurlong Gallery, Univ of Wisconsin-Stout

       2000    Natural CuriositiesSarratt Gallery, Vanderbilt Univ.,  Nashville, TN

                    ResourcererThomas Barry Fine Arts, Minneapolis, MN

                     Pictures of Common Detritus, Northwestern College, St. Paul, MN

        1998    Wood By-ProductsRochester Art Center, Rochester, MN

        1997    Nature WorldMinneapolis Institute of Art, Mpls, MN

        1996    New DataConkling Gallery, Mankato St. Univ., Mankato, MN

        1995  Assorted Paintings Middle Tenn. St. Univ., Murfreesboro, TN

                    Regular Paintings  Brainerd Comm. College Gallery, Brainerd, MN

        1994    Unlikely ScenariosKiehle Gallery, St. Cloud, MN

        1993    New Paintings Thomas Barry Fine Arts, Mpls, MN

        1992    Small and Medium PaintingsCenter for Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

        1991    Fixtures (installation) Arena Theater Lobby, Northfield,MN

       1988    Boring Scenery  Granite Falls Restaurant, Nashville, TN

                   Person, Place, or Thing  Jewish Community Center Gallery, Nashville, TN

Selected Group Shows

          2017   SEEPerlman Teaching Museum, Northfield MN

                     The ProfessorsCumberland Gallery, Nashville, TN

          2016    WALK Festival Carleton College

          2015    AirInstinct Gallery, Minneapolis, MN

          2014    Wild and Woolly   New Art Center, Newton MA

                     Material Sense801 Art, Minneapolis, MN

                     Recent Acquisitions: Art Since 1985James J. Hill House, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN

       2013-16Artist-Designed Mini-Golf Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN

            2012   LifelikeWalker Art Center, Minneapolis MN (traveling: New Orleans Museum of Art, Nov 10, 2012–Jan 27, 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego February 24–May 26, 2013, Blanton Museum of Art, Univ. of Texas at Austin, June 23–Sept.29, 2013, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, Feb. 5- May 18, 2014, Ibid. (referencing Carleton collections)  Perlman Teaching Museum, Northfield, MN

          2011    Altered Ground Work Gallery, Ann Arbor, MI

          2010   Ordinarily HereWeisman Museum, Minneapolis, MN

                     ImpactBloomington Art Center, Bloomington, MN

                    Shedding Light Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, WI

                    Going YardThomas Barry Fine Arts, Minneapolis, MN

        2009   As We Live and BreathCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

                    Natural Resourcery  Carleton Art Gallery, Northfield, MN

                     Father/SonMinnetonka Center for the Arts, Mtka, MN

       2008    Objects of Value Miami Art Museum.  Miami FL

                     Future Tense Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY

                     History Room  The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN

        2007    Paper Trail: Recent Acquisitions Walker Art Center, Mpls, MN

                     Environments of InventionMinnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN

       2006    CommuteNorthfield Arts Guild, Northfield, MN

                     CitiesNash Gallery, Univ. of Minnesota, Mpls, MN

                     BLOOM Bell Museum of Natural History, Mpls, MN

       2005    Mapping SpaceMiami Art Museum, Miami FL

                    Welcome 2 the Jungle, DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY

       2004    Uncanny Visions: Contemporary Romantic LandscapesPlains Art Museum, Fargo, ND

                    7 Curatorial VisionsNash Gallery, U of Mn, Mpls, MN

       2003    HybridsWave Hill, New York, NY

                    Natural SelectionCarrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

                    Nature as AbstractionRochester Art Center, Rochester MN

                    Thomas Barry Fine Arts, Mpls, MN

       2002    Plotting  Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL

                    IngrainedEvanston Art Center, Evanston, IL

                    Summer InvitatioalSherry Leedy Contemporary Art,  Kansas City, MO

        2001    Amused   Carrie Secrist Gallery,  Chicago, IL

                    Minnesota Art with a TwistWeisman Art Museum, Mpls, MN

       2000    A Broad ViewCentral Michigan University Gallery, Mt. Pleasant, MI

                   The Big BangRochester Art Center, Rochester MN

       1999    BotanicaTweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN (traveling 1999- Plains Air Museum, Fargo, ND, 2000- University Galleries, Illinois State Univ. Normal IL, Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, LA, Tarble Art Center, Charleston, IL, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, Univ. ofDelaware, Newark, DE)

                   Nature as SourceAllegheny College, Meadville, PA

       1998    Aloud  ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL

       1997    10,000 Lincoln Cheese LogsWriston Art Center, Appleton WI (traveling 1998- Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL, -Carleton College Gallery, Northfield, MN)

                   How to Describe a SuspectHyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

       1996    Watershed  Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN

                   EarthMinneapolis Institute of Art, Mpls, MN

       1995    Nature Re-Constructed, Nature Re-envisionedMinneapolis Foundation, Mpls, MN

       1994    Minnesota State Fair Juried Exhibit, St. Paul, MN

                   The Animal in Art  World Trade Center, St. Paul, MN

       1993    Six McKnight Artists   Mpls. College of Art and Design, Mpls.,MN (traveled 1993-Steensland Art Museum, Northfield, MN, 1994- St. Mary's College Gallery, Winona, MN

                   Model Car Round-UpGallery 400, Chicago, IL

                   Landscapes 1993Condeso Lawler Gallery, New York, NY

                   Haunting ImagesUniv. of Wisc. at Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI

       1992    Paintings at the Nash Nash Gallery, Univ. of Minn.,Mpls, MN

                   Housewares on Level 6  Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL

        1991  Source MaterialCenter for Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

                   Artists Respond to WarpARTs Gallery, Minneapolis, MN

       1989    The Presence of AbsenceGallery 400, Chicago, IL

       1988    Summer Lights InvitationalNashville, TN


          Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

          The Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany

          Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL

          Minnesota History Center

          Target Corporation

          General Mills Collection


          2003    Target Corporation, Minneapolis, MN

          1997    Accenture Consulting, Minneapolis, MN

          1992    Dain Rauscher Corporation, Minneapolis, MN

Grants, Awards,  Fellowships              

          2005  MCAD/McKnight Foundation Artist Fellowship

          2003    Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship                           

                   Margaret Klimek Phillips Fellowship

          2002    Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship

          1996    Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Fellowship

          1994    Arts Midwest/N.E.A. Regional Visual Artists Fellowship       

          1993    Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Fellowship

          1992    McKnight Foundation Artist's Fellowship

          1991    Cheekwood National Painting Competition, Nashville, TN - Merit Award


          University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL - M.F.A.  in painting,  June 1990

          Carleton College, Northfield, MN - B.A. in Studio Art, June 1985

 Work Experience                 

          Professor of Art

                   Carleton College, Northfield, MN(Jan.1997- present, Spring 1992, Sept. 1990-June 1991)

          Affiliate Faculty - Instructor in Drawing and Painting

                   University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN(1996- 1998)


                   College of Visual Arts, St. Paul, MN(Fall 1997)

          Visiting Artist

                   Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines IA (Sept. - Nov. 1994)

          Assistant Director

                   Gallery 400, Chicago, IL (March 1989- June1990)

          Teaching Assistant

                   University of Illinois at Chicago.  Chicago, IL

                   Department of Art and Design (Sept. 1988- June 1989)

          Exhibit Preparator

                   Cheekwood Fine Arts Center, Nashville, TN (July 1985-Aug. 1988)

          Sonngwriter, Vocalist, Percussionist, Graphic Designer

                   The Young Nashvillians, pop combo (1982-84)


          1998    Cover Art- The Promised Land- Milkweed Press

          1997    Cover art and interior illustration-  Night Out   Milkweed Press

          1996    Cover art- Sacred Ground   Milkweed Press

Volunteer Work                    

          1998-2000       Artists’ Panel - Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program, Minneapolis Institute of Art

          1995-2001       graphic design- Habitat for Humanity



2010   Other Positioning Systemsexhibition catalog,  Rochester Art Center, essays by Jan Estep, Kris Douglas

Articles Written  

2013    “On ‘Painting in the Present Tense’ ”  mnartists.blog


2001    “Edgy - Painting at the Edge of the World at the Walker Art Center” New Art Examiner, Oct.- Nov. 2001

             “In Situ- 3 Minnesota Painters” at the Minneapolis Institute of Art ,  catalog essay

2000    “Have fun or Else: ‘Let’s Entertain’ meets ‘Star Wars’ “ New Art Examiner, July- Aug. 2000

1998    "Shopping and the Meaning of Life"(symposiumreview) New Art Examiner, April 1998

             "The Trickster" (review - Robert Colescottat the Walker Art Center) City Pages, March , 1998

              “Emotional Activism” (review-In the Eye of the Storm: Art of Conscience 1930-1970at Weisman Art Museum) City Pages, February 11, 1998

1997    “Multiplicity” (review- Joseph Beuys Multiplesat Walker Art Center) City Pages, October 15 1997, p. 47

1995    "James Whitney Tuthill- Studio View"  New Art Examiner, January, p 32

                   "Lefkowitz' Brain on Duchamp's Leg" exhibition review Van Gogh's Ear, February, p 1

                   "Crossroads: Recent Abstract Painting" exhibition review,  New Art Examiner, May. p 60

                   "In So Many Words" exhibition review, New Art Examiner, October, p 47

                   "Shana Kaplow and Michael Rathbun" Artists of the Year, City Pages, p 16

Reviews of work/Interviews

2014Riddle, Mason Reimagining Architectural History in Cardboard, April 24, 2014


Thomas, Dylan“Boxes on boxes on boxes” review of “Austerity Plans” Southwest Journal April 22, 2014


2013  Sturdevant, Andy“'Nirthfolde' has an air of authenticity, laced with absurdity”  Minnpost, February 6, 2013


2012    Local Artist Interview


Nevitt, Jennifer “A Twist of Intellect”  Mnartists.org,  May 14, 2012


2010    Olson, Matt “Exploded View: David Lefkowitz” Threshold AiA-MN blog, Feb. 4


2007    Riddle, Mason“Unnatural Nature” exhibition review Mnartists.org, April 2, 2007 http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=141692

              Edsill, Sam, Interview Mental Contagion web magazine: http://www.mentalcontagion.com/issue0702/causeandeffect.html

2006    Aldorondo, Cecelia "Irreconcilable Differences" exhibition review, Mnartists.org August 10, 2006http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=112449

              Tumlir, Jan4 McKnight Artistsexhibition catalogue  

              Gordon, Glen "The Hive" exhibition review,  Mnartists.org,, January 31, 2006http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=92086

              Abbe, Mary “Castles of Sand” Star Tribune, Jan. 27, 2006, p. F1

2005    Gordon, Glen "Cities, Twigs, and Cells" exhibitionreview Mnartists.org,  Feb. 4,2005 http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=59422

2004    Caniglia, Julia, “The Pick-Up Artist” The Rake, November 2004, p. 59

              New American Paintings, #53, September 2004

2002    New American Paintings,   #41, September 2002, pp. 82-85

              Fallon, Michael, “Cultivars” exhibition review, City Pages, Nov. 13,   2002, p. 47 Amie, Jennifer, “The Surrounding Area” exhibition review, Art Papers, Nov.-Dec. 2002, p. 51

             Fallon, Michael, “the REAL thing”.  City Pages,  June 19, 2002,  p.25

2001    Silberman, Robert,  exhibition review, Art in America, July 2001

2000    Knowles, Susan, exhibition review, Art Papers, Sept-Oct 2000, p. 40

            Wibking, Angela, “Indoor Living” exhibition review, Nashville Scene, February 3, 2000

1998    Weins, Ann, "Just Add Water" exhibition review, New Art Examiner, May 1998

1997    Morgan, Cynthia, “David Lefkowitz”  exhibition review, New Art Examiner, December ‘97/January ‘98, p. 60

           Riddle, Mason, “In ‘Nature World,’ Lefkowitz ponders awkward relationships” Pioneer Press , July 31, 1997

            LeFevre, Camille, “Framing Nature,” Minnesota Monthly, August 1997, p. 30

            Sullivan, Kate, “Nature Boy,” City Pages, August 27, 1997, p. 38

            Caniglia, Julie, “Naturally Conflicted,” Arts, September 1997, p. 6-7

1996    Riddle, Mason. "David Lefkowitz"  exhibition review, New Art Examiner, January, p 48

1995    Caniglia, Julie. "Bent for Nature"  exhibition review, City Pages, September 13, p 27

1992    Yood, James.  “David Lefkowitz”  exhibition review,  Artforum, May 1992 pp. 122-123                                                                                 

1991   Mc Laughlin, Bonnie.  “Source Material: A Glimpse Intothe Artist’s Studio”, The Chicago Reader,  Inside Art,  August 9,  pp. 32 - 33

          Hawkins, Margaret.  “Studio Is the Art in an Exhibit that offers Unique View”, Chicago Sun Times, August 2, p. 58