Al Hirschfeld

2 08 2015

Albert “Al” Hirschfeld (June 21, 1903 – January 20, 2003) was an American caricaturist best known for his black and white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars.

In 1924, Hirschfeld traveled to Paris and London, where he studied painting, drawing and sculpture. When he returned to the United States, a friend, fabled Broadway press agent, Richard Maney, showed one of Hirschfeld’s drawings to an editor at the New York Herald Tribune, which got Hirschfeld commissions for that newspaper and then, later, The New York Times.

Hirschfeld’s style is unique, and he is considered to be one of the most important figures in contemporary drawing and caricature, having influenced countless artists, illustrators, and cartoonists. His caricatures are almost always drawings of pure line in black ink, into which Hirschfeld dipped not a pen but a genuine crow’s quill.[3]

Readers of The New York Times and other newspapers prior to the time they printed in color will be most familiar with the Hirschfeld drawings that are black ink on white illustration board. However, there is a whole body of Hirschfeld’s work in color.[4] Hirschfeld’s full-color paintings were commissioned by many magazines, often as the cover. Examples are TV Guide, Life Magazine, American Mercury, Look Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The New Masses, and Seventeen Magazine.[5] He also illustrated many books in color, most notably among them Harlem As Seen By Hirschfeld, with text by William Saroyan.

 

 


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