Friday, March 25, 2016

The Hirschfeld Century by David Leopold

The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age
by David Leopold [Biography Hirschfeld] 

This large, coffee-table art book is a wonderful tribute to the incredible art of legendary caricaturist Al Hirshfeld, whose highly stylized art appeared in dozens of publications over the course of his career. Perhaps best remembered for the line-drawing works that graced many a Playbill, celebrating the New York theatre scene, Hirschfeld’s earliest published art which is reproduced in this volume comes from the late 1920s. Hirschfeld continued to create new pieces until his death in 2003, and a 2002 self-portrait is the last (chronologically) presented in this collection. The over-360 pieces in this large volume are interspersed with biographical information about Hirschfeld, and historical information about the stage shows celebrated in the art — this text by editor David Leopold is equal parts technical writing combined with equal parts reverential tribute.

As a fan of Broadway theatre history, I particularly enjoyed the background information included with the art. There have been other past Hirschfeld collections, but this is a great combination of art and text, and I highly recommend it. As always, part of the fun in looking at Hirschfeld’s line drawings is finding his daughter Nina’s name hidden in the art, usually in the drape of clothing, hairdoes, shadoes, or bits of the backgrounds or scenery — often there is more than just one “Nina” present. Have fun looking!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Hirschfeld: Art and Recollections from Eight Decades, by Al Hirschfeld [1991], Hirschfeld: On-Line, by Al Hirschfeld [1999], and Hirschfeld’s New York, by Al Hirschfeld [2001] ]

[ publisher’s official The Hirschfeld Century web page ] | [ official Al Hirschfeld Foundation web site ] [ New York Historical Society Museum & Library’s web page for the Hirschfeld Century exhibit in 2015 ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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