The acrylic revolution came as a result of the introduction of new products in the commercial paint industry. Practically all changes in the art materials world are the result of research and development in the commercial paint industry. The bold step to take a commercial acrylic material and produce paints, a primer and various mediums was the result of one man’s vision.
Since 1933, Henry Levinson produced oil paint under the Permanent Pigments brand based in Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1955 he had taken an acrylic polymer that the commercial world introduced as a source for a new form of easy to use, water-based paint and transformed it into a primer that could be applied to a wide variety of substrates to turn them into a compatible surface for oil or acrylic paints. One of the unique features is that acrylic primers do not contain oil so supports like canvas don’t have to have a sizing coat applied to them in order to prevent the ground from oxidizing and disintegrating the fabric.
The first advertisement appeared in American Artist Magazine in February 1957 as a one-third-page column. It illustrated the distinctive Permanent Pigment logo and a metal container similar to a modern day paint can showing the product. The ad indicated that other materials containing acrylics form a family of products that would be known to the world as “Liquitex,” a combination of the words "liquid" and "texture." Levinson would have a two-fold mission ahead of him. At this point in time acrylic paints, especially commercial water-based products, were new to the market. Levinson needed to convince his art materials purchasers that this new medium was not a gimmick, but rather the future of paint. Levinson also had to introduce a complete line of products artists would need to create paintings. The term “acrylic polymer” was so new to the art world that Levinson needed to use the term “Latex” in parentheses following the words “acrylic polymer” to educate his new potential audience, even though no true latex was contained in acrylic paint or priming products.