Posted on April 5, 2007
Hirschfeld at 99
Tom Richmond has posted a video of the well known caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. The video, apparently captured from a documentary about Al titled The Line King, shows a 99 year old Al Hirschfeld doing a caricature of Paul Newman. Some of you may know that Al continued cartooning up until of the day he passed away.
When I think of Hirschfeld’s work two things come to mind; a) long, bold, and confident lines b) the name “Nina”.
Hirscheld’s style largely seemed to be built upon large loopy lines. The most interesting thing to me about the above video is watching how Al creates those elegant lines from some short scratchy movements. In fact, watching the video I can only see a few circumstances of a long stroke. Even when he signs his name, he does so as if he’s etching away at a piece of linoleum with a knife.
In 1945, Hirschfeld had a daughter named Nina. In celebration of the fact, he began hiding Nina’s name within his work, often times sneaking it into a characters hair or in the crosshatching of a characters clothes. I remember at the age of 13, going into a Tower records and scouring the Classical section for Hirshfeld covers, just so I could see how many Nina’s I could find. BTW, the youtube video was shot by Nina’s daughter.