This print is part of the Dreigroschen Portfolio.
Berthold Brecht’s 1930 film Dreigroschen [The Threepenny Opera] introduced the world to the great musical standards “The Ballad of Mack the Knife” and “Pirate Jenny”, among others. More than that, it was a biting socialist critique of the capitalist world, and in that regard it resonated with Jack Levine, one of the great social critic artists in the mold of Philip Evergood, Leonard Baskin, and George Gropper. Levine was inspired by Dreigroschen—and his memories of truancies from school, occasions in which he would tour the erotic temptations of Boston—to make a suite of pictures, of which this etching is the 13th plate.
This print is a soft ground etching, made by using a softer and stickier waxy ground than is normally used in etching. Depending on the smoothness of the paper used to make the etching plate, the lines of the print can resemble pencil, chalk, or pastel, and generally are soft and somewhat irregular. Levine used the technique to great effect in this print, yielding a rough and broken line perfectly matched to the seamy characters portrayed in this series of etchings.
Levine turned to print-making late his career—in 1960 at age 45—but he immediately vaulted into the first ranks of printmakers. He continued to make art, as he had done throughout his career, which portrayed and challenged modern life.
This work is accompanied by the vellum sheet which covered it in the portfolio, which includes some small notations about the printing of the main edition. (If you choose to have this work framed, the vellum sheet will be placed in an envelope affixed to the rear of the work.)