Levon West

1900 – 1968

Born in South Dakota, Levon West was a descendant of the early American artist Benjamin West.

West was interested in art at an early age but, after winning a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, he studied Business Administration. After graduation he free lanced as an artist in Minneapolis and became interested in etching through reading a series of books about it.

He decided to go East to continue his business studies at Harvard but detoured to New York to meet an etcher about whom he had read, Joseph Pennell. Pennell is credited with influencing and teaching many well known 20th century etchers. West received enough encouragement from Pennell to give up the idea of Harvard graduate school and, instead, pursue etching as a career.

However, his business studies had shown him the importance of advertising and he used this knowledge to good advantage in promoting his art. While in New York studying at the Art Students’ League and with Pennell, he formed an aviation corporation with friends. They serviced planes at Roosevelt Field on Long Island. One day he noticed a different type of plane and did sketches of it. It belonged to Charles Lindberg. When West heard Lindberg flew the Spirit of St. Louis on a record breaking trans-Atlantic flight, he hurriedly did an etching from his sketches and took it to the New York Times. The paper asked how much he wanted for it and he said, “I don’t care how much I get for it, but put my name on it good and big at the bottom.” When the newspaper came out with his etching on the front page demand for his work followed. He was contacted by the Kennedy Galleries in New York the following day.

Because he was an excellent etcher, the virtues of his work continued to be recognized by dealers and collectors. He became known for his depictions of western ranch life and scenes from the American Northwest in which he captured the motion of snow and dust storms and water reflections. In 1932, He was Guest Artist for the state of Colorado.

Later in his life he became interested in photography, using the name Ivan Dimitri in his photographic work.

West’s etchings are now in most museums in North America. But he was honored in his own time. By age forty, his art was included in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Havermeyer Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He was given the Theodore Roosevelt Roughrider Award by the state of North Dakota in 1962.

8 ¼” x 10”
Number 45 out of an edition of 100
signed in the margin