Hirschfeld’s America This Week at LiveAuctionTalk.com Rosemary McKittrick’s weekly column offers a motherload of information and history about the world of art, antiques and collectibles. Visit the site. Sign up for a free weekly subscription.
News-Antique.com - Nov 21,2011 - With a single line, Al Hirschfeld’s drawings reveal a wealth of information about his subjects. His one line caricatures look as fresh today as when they were first created.
That’s Hirschfeld’s magic. He’s best known for simple black-and-white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars.
Simple but accurate drawings of famous people like Shirley MacLaine, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball capture their essence and leave out the fanfare. Hirschfeld’s drawings were enjoyed in the vainest of industries.
Hirschfeld drew some of the original movie posters for Charlie Chaplin films and “The Wizard of Oz.” He also did the poster artwork of the Marx Brothers for their first 1935 film, “A Night at the Opera.”
The artist knew he nailed it “when the Marx Brothers looked like my drawing rather than the other way around,” he said. The makeup department at MGM Studios even tried to get the Marx Brothers to conform to the artist’s image of them.
Hirschfeld illustrated entire casts of Broadway shows appearing alongside reviews in The New York Times. Newspaper and magazine publicity departments realized Hirschfeld was finding his audience. Readers appreciated his fresh, simple take on people. They also knew he hid his daughter Nina’s name somewhere in his work. It was great fun pouring over his illustrations to find it.
“I want to keep simplifying my graphic description of someone’s character,” he said. “Now I am down to a pencil, a pen, and a bottle of ink. I hope one day to eliminate even the pencil.”
On June 22, Doyle New York, featured The Hirschfeld Sale. In the auction was a selection of caricatures and a photo taken of him.
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