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Biography

Sam Levin enjoyed a long career as a versatile photographer, working with many sectors of the entertainment industry and becoming the favourite portraitist of leading singers, actors and figures from the world of the arts. Little is known about his early life however, in moving from Russia to France he quickly established his photographic reputation. With only one photographic job under his belt, Levin became the set and still photographer for Renoir's momentous film, "La Grande Illusion."

This success sparked half a century of photo-taking, from the 1930's to the 1980's Levin had the pleasure of photographing for the two most important studios, Metro Goldwin Mayer and Cinecitta. At these studios, Levin captured the images of Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Burt Lancaster and Orson Welles amongst others. Not only does his photography offer a panorama of European and American cinema but during this time Levin also created the cover jackets for 188 album records.

From Edith Piaf and Francoise Hardy to Sophia Loren and Catherine Denevue, Levin's strongest work is of Brigitte Bardot. 'Discovering' the girl in the mid 1950's, he was the one who considerably contributed to Bardot's early career with images 'of sensuality and slight immorality.' During this time, France was looking for a new symbol of the nation and via Levin's images, found this in Bardot. Portraying her in vibrant colours, with tousled hair and bare feet, Levin broke away from traditional studio shoot conventions to create a new fashion aesthetic and sexual vocabulary. Thus conjuring a refreshing image of childish naivet, coupled with an almost animalistic sexuality, which made Bardot a young tabula rosa on which France was able to stamp their objectives of modernity. Levin's photos of Bardot were one of the main forces that propelled Bardot's image and thus France to compete with Hollywood sirens for publicity. In 1960 it was rumoured that Levin's photo of Bardot from behind in a white corset sold more postcards than that of the Eiffel Tower.


1904
Sam Levin was born in Russia before moving to and settling in France.

1930's
For the next fifty years, Levin contributed greatly to the film and music industry, as a set and still photographer for such directors as Jean Renoir, Rene Clair and Georges Henri Clouzot as well as photographing the record sleeves for Edith Piaf, Francois Hardy and Yvette Horner among others. In total he was the photographer for 118 record sleeves, 10 major films and countless celebrities. During this time he worked with three of the largest film studios, Studio Harcourt, Metro Goldwin Mayer as well as Cinecitta.

1950's
In the mid-1950's Levin took many photographs of Bardot in provocative poses which contributed greatly to her public image.

1983
Levin and R Boyer published 'Et Dieu Crea la Star Brigitte Bardot' as homage to Bardot.

1992
Levin died in France.

2003
Two books of his work were published in a series titled 'In Praise of Beauty' to showcase portraits of the glamorous women he has taken over his career. The first, 'Bardot par Sam Levin' includes some of her best photos by Levin as well as never before seen photos. In writing the book's introduction, Bardot talks about her relationship with Levin and how he contributed to her fame. The second, 'Brunes et Blondes,' pays tribute to the beauty of stars Levin has taken pictures of, including Ava Gardner, Romy Schneider, Catherine Deneuve, Claidua Cardinale and Sophia Loren.