Strauss, David Levi

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STRAUSS, David Levi


Male. Education: Goddard College, received degree.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Aperture's Book Center, 20 East 23rd St., New York, NY 10010.


Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, NY, faculty member of Avery Graduate School of the Arts; has worked as an art curator.


Visiting scholar research fellowship, Center for Creative Photography; Logan grant; Guggenheim fellowship; three Artspace grants.


(With Daniel J. Martinze and others) The Things You See when You Don't Have a Grenade!, Smart Art Press (Santa Monica, CA), 1996.

Miguel Rio Branco (essay), Aperture (New York, NY), 1998.

Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art & Politics, Autonomedia, 1999.

Jorge Zeno: Semilla Abierta/Open Seed (exhibit catalog), Museo de Arte de Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico), 2000.

Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, introduction by John Berger, Aperture (New York, NY), 2003.

Also author of poetry. Contributor to books, including Points of Entry—Three Rivers Arts Festival, by Mary J. Jacob and others, edited by Michelle Illuminato, Ram Publications, 1997; Francesca Woodman, by Francesca Woodman, translated by Rana Dasgupta, Scalo Verlag, 1998; Cecilia Vicuna: Cloud-Net, by Cecilia Vicuna, translated by Rosa Alcala, Art in General, 2000; The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century, edited by Andrew Roth, Roth Horowitz, 2001; Imaging Her Erotics: Essays, Interviews, Projects, by Carolee Schneeman, MIT Press, 2001; and Hannah Villiger, edited by Jolanda Bucher, Scalo Verlag, 2001. Contributor to periodicals, including Art Forum, Aperture, Art in America, Exposure, Artscribe, Arena, Art Issues, Afterimage, Artes de Mexico, Nation, and Edinburgh Review. Miguel Rio Branco has been translated into Spanish.


Several books, including Odile & Odette, Artists and Photography, Beuys in Ireland: 7000 Oaks on the Hill of Uisneach, and Nine Latin American Photographers.


David Levi Strauss is an author, poet, and art critic who often writes about art and photography as it pertains to politics and modern culture. In his art criticism book Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art & Politics, he "attributes much of the emphasis on the body in recent art to a struggle for control over this immediately political domain," according to Afterimage contributor Alan Gilbert. In Strauss's view, much of modern art is created in support of the status quo, and thus its aesthetics do not delve into the root of the issues that ail society but only present images that support a "return to normalcy or stasis." "The implicit argument running through these essays," according to Gilbert, "is that art will never be able to [make use of the power of imagery] … on its own, whether in theory or practice. Instead, Strauss foresees a strategy of constant contextualization, both on the part of the artist and the critic, thereby creating a web of relations between art, culture and history." The critic concluded that Between Dog & Wolf "is an impassioned and lucid attempt to articulate a radical aesthetics in opposition to widespread anaesthetic visual culture."

With Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, Strauss has written a work that has often been compared by critics to Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, in which Sontag avers that the efforts of photographers to make their pictures of horrifying world events into some type of art has resulted in distancing audiences from their subject and making them, therefore, largely indifferent to it. Strauss, in contrast, asserts that "it is both possible and desirable for a photograph to have a political as well as an aesthetic dimension," according to Peter Wollen in the Nation. As an example, Strauss defends the work of Sebastiao Salgado, whom Sontag accuses of trying to add beauty to despairing subjects, saying that it is the artistry of Salgado's work that leads to discussion among audiences about his subjects. Nevertheless, Strauss echoes Sontag's concerns about the state of modern photojournalism, saying that images of distant wars, disease, and poverty can lead to a sense of "distance and superiority in consumers while providing them with vicarious thrills," according to Talya Halkin in the Jerusalem Post. While at times, Halkin felt, the author fails to draw a convincing "connection between photography and politics," his book helps show "how contemporary artists can subvert the way we look at photography." Between the Eyes, concluded Library Journal contributor Shauna Frischkorn, is a "compelling" work with a "writing style [that is] intellectual but accessible."



Afterimage, March, 2001, Alan Gilbert, "A(na)esthetics," p. 20.

Jerusalem Post, August 29, 2003, Talya Halkin, "An Open-and-closed (Shutter) Case," p. B13.

Library Journal, June 15, 2003, Shauna Frischkorn, review of Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, p. 69.

Nation, October 6, 2003, Peter Wollen, "Shooting Wars," p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2003, review of Between the Eyes, p. 57.


College of the Atlantic, (April 13, 2004), "David Levi Strauss, Author and Critic, to Speak at College of the Atlantic."*

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