The Old Print Shop

Levon West


Levon West (also known as Ivan Dmitri), born Levon Assadoorian, was an American printmaker and photographer, born in Centerville, South Dakota. His family changed their name during World War I because he and his brothers did not want to enlist with an Armenian surname. 

West got his big break in 1927. He had sketched Charles Lindbergh's airplane days before his landmark, non-stop flight from New York to Paris. When he learned of the flight on the radio a few days later, he hurriedly made an etching and took it to The New York Times, who ran it along with their article about the successful flight. When asked how much he wanted for the etching, his reply was “I don’t care how much I get for it, but put my name on it good and big at the bottom.” The image was a huge success and was picked up my papers across the country, launching his artistic career. 

An etcher, West is best known for his depictions of the rugged outdoor life in the far west during the late 1920's. His subjects included pack horses, dog teams, Native Americans, hunting and fishing. 

As a photographer, West took the pen name Ivan Dmitri. He was a pioneer in color photography, established one of the first photography exhibits at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and founded Photography in the Fine Arts.

He studied at the University Of Minnesota and at the Art Students League with Joseph Pennell.