Gregory Levine

Job title: 
Buddhist visual cultures and Eco Art History

A historian of the art and architecture of Japan and Buddhist visual cultures, Gregory Levine is at work on a trilogy that examines modern-contemporary Buddhist visual cultures: Long Strange Journey: On Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments (2017); Buddha Heads: Fragments and Landscapes; and Other Buddhas: Race, War, and Buddhist Visual Culture. A concurrent project, titled “Tree-buddhas” explores the possibilities of eco art history. He is an editorial board member of Artibus Asiae and the Journal of Art Historiography and has reviewed manuscripts for the University of Washington Press, University of Hawai’i Press, The Art Bulletin, and Artibus Asiae. A member of the Groups in Buddhist Studies and Asian Studies at Berkeley, his recent graduate seminars have examined the Zen monastery Daitokuji; cultures of display and exhibition in Japan; the formation of art history in modern Japan; art forgery and authenticity; the fragment in art; the visual cultures of Buddhist modernism; and eco art history. His lecture courses examine the arts and architectures of Japan; Buddhist temples and icons in Japan; painting in Japan; and global Buddhist visual cultures. Undergraduate seminars have focused on Zen painting and calligraphy; collecting Japanese art in the West; plunder, iconoclasm, and forgery; and artists responding to Japan’s 3/11 disasters.

Select publications

“Zen Sells Zen Things: Meditation Supply, Right Livelihood, and Buddhist Retail.” In Zen and Material Culture, ed. Steven Heine and Pamela Winfield. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

“Critical Zen Art History.” Journal of Art Historiography 15 (Dec., 2016).

“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.

“Art Occupies at Occupy Cal.” SOTA (State of the Arts), University of California Institute for Research in the Arts. November 28, 2011.

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.


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