UC Berkeley History of Art Department

People / Faculty


  • Gregory Levine


    Art and Architecture of Japan and Buddhist Visual Cultures

    Ph.D., Princeton University, 1997
    M.A., Princeton University, 1990
    B.A., Oberlin College, 1985

  • Bio


    A historian of the art and architecture of Japan and Buddhist visual cultures, Gregory Levine is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Hayes Fellowship, and other awards. His book, Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery (2005), was a finalist in 2007 for the Charles Rufus Morey Prize (“for an especially distinguished book in art history”) awarded by the College Art Association. With Yukio Lippit he co-curated the exhibition Awakenings: Zen Figure Paintings from Medieval Japan (Japan Society, 2007) and served as catalogue co-editor and contributor. He was co-editor of Crossing the Sea: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Yoshiaki Shimizu (2012). In 2014, he was invited to be an advisor to the documentary film, Zen and the Art of Architecture, directed by Kevin Gordon (SUB64Films), focusing on the construction of the Zen Buddhist training temple, Tenpyōzan, in Lake County, CA.Recent publications include“Zen Art before ‘Nothingness,’” in Murai and Chong, eds., Inventing Asia, and “Buddha Rush: A Story of Art and its Consequences” (BOOM: A Journal of California). He is at work on a projected trilogy on modern-contemporary Buddhist visual cultures: Long Strange Journey: On Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments; Buddha Heads: Fragments, Landscapes, and Buddhist Visual Cultures; and Other Buddhas: Race, War, and Buddhist Imageries. An editorial board member of Artibus Asiae, Journal of Art Historiography, and Monumenta Nipponica, he has reviewed manuscripts for the University of Washington Press; University of Hawai‘i Press; The Art Bulletin; Artibus Asiae; and other publishers. A member of the Group in Asian Studies, Group in Buddhist Studies at Berkeley, recent graduate seminars have considered art and architecture at the Zen monastery Daitokuji; the formation of art/art history during the Meiji period in Japan; art, forgery, and authenticity; the fragment and ruin in art; and the visual cultures of Buddhist modernism. In fall 2008 he led the History of Art department’s Judith Stronach Graduate Travel Seminar in Art History (in Japan). His lecture courses include surveys of the art and architecture of Japan; Buddhist art and architecture in Japan and globally; and painting cultures in Japan. Undergraduate seminars have included Zen painting and calligraphy; collecting Japanese art in the West; and the antiquities trade and market. With the artist Scott Tsuchitani he has co-taught the seminar “Socially Engaged Art and the Future of the Public University.”

  • Books

  • Select publications

    “The Faltering Brush: Material, Sensory Trace, and Nonduality in Chan/Zen Buddhist Death Verse Calligraphies.” In Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice, ed. Sally M. Promey. (New Haven: Yale University Press 2014), 561-579.

    “Zen Art before ‘Nothingness’.” In Inventing Asia: American Perceptions Around 1900, ed. Noriko Murai and Alan Chong (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 2014), 100-114.

    “On Return: Kano Eitoku’s Flowers and Birds of the Four Seasons and the Digital World.” In Crossing the Sea: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Yoshiaki Shimizu, ed. Gregory Levine, Andrew Watsky, and Gennifer Weisenfeld (Princeton: Tang Center for East Asian Art, Princeton University Press, 2012).

    “Buddha Rush: A Story of Art and its Consequences,” BOOM: A Journal of California, vol. 2, 3 (Fall, 2012): 45-61. (image)

    “Art Occupies at Occupy Cal.” SOTA (State of the Arts), University of California Institute for Research in the Arts. November 28, 2011. http://ucsota.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/art-occupies-at-occupy-cal/

    Gregory Levine and Peter Glazer, "Common Ground." Townsend Center for the Humanities Newletter (Mar./Feb., 2010): 25-27. (Download as PDF)

    Gregory Levine, "Two (or More) Truths: Reconsidering Zen Art in the West," in Awakenings: Zen Figure Paintings from Medieval Japan, eds. Gregory Levine, Yukio Lippit (New York: Japan Society; Yale University Press, 2007), 52-63. (Download as PDF)

    “Malraux’s Buddha Heads,” in Blackwell Companion to Asian Art, ed. Deborah Hutton, Rebecca Brown (London: Blackwell Publishing, 2010).

    “Zen Art: Pure Gesture, Nationalist Aesthetic, or Nothing at all?” In Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions, ed. Inken Pohl and John Nelson (Leiden: Brill, expected 2012), 529-550. Revision of “Two (or More) Truths: Reconsidering Zen Art in the West,” published originally in Gregory Levine, Yukio Lippit, eds. Awakenings: Zen Figure Paintings from Medieval Japan (New York: Japan Society and Yale University Press, 2007), 52-63.

    Review: Andrew Watsky, Chikubushima: Deploying the Sacred Arts in Momoyama Japan. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. Monumenta Nipponica, 59, no. 3 (Autumn, 2004), 421-24.

    “Rakan in America: Travels of the Daitokuji 500 Luohan,” in Moving Objects: Time, Space, and Context, ed. Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2004), 96-109.

    “Switching Sites and Identities: The Founder’s Statue at the Japanese Zen Buddhist Temple Kōrin’in.” The Art Bulletin Vol. LXXXIII (March 2001): 72-104.

    Review: Joseph Parker, Zen Buddhist Landscape Arts of Early Muromachi Japan (1336-1573) Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999. Journal of Asian Studies 58/4 (Nov. 1999): 1150-1153.