Vintage Barbie dolls and sports figurines come to life in David Levinthal's photographs. These toy characters act out scenes from graphic novels, war stories, and highly charged political moments. Voyeuristic and often shot like a scene from film noir, Levinthal's subjects have included WWII battle scenes, American blackface figures, baseball heroes, and cultural icons.
"I first began to work with toys as the subject matter for my artwork in 1972 while I was a graduate student in photography at Yale. Initially I was interested in the toys merely as objects. As I continued working I began to try to re-create the feelings of childhood play by photographing toy soldiers on the floor of my bedroom and using simple painted wood blocks to represent buildings and cities. I quickly found that narrow focus that came from photographing objects less than an inch tall gave the toys more life and a sense of realism that was not inherent in them. Setting up the toy figures is just the beginning. The set itself is just the background. It is a scene. And it is within and from that scene that the images themselves are found."