A Sunday morning pleasure used to be trying to find the “Ninas” in Al Hirschfeld’s caricatures which appeared in the Sunday New York Times “Arts & Leisures” section. As most people knew, Nina was Hirschfeld’s daughter. But what I learned at the New York Historical Society’s exhibit, “The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld,” was that Hirschfeld never intended to make it a permanent feature of his drawings. He did it for the first few months after Nina’s birth; meant for the amusement of his friends. But when he stopped, people protested; so “Nina” returned and stayed part of the Sunday drawings.
The exhibition has over 100 original works, with a special emphasis on the New York Times—where Hirschfeld was a contributor for over seven decades. Hirschfeld, who died in 2003 at the age of 100 years, was known by many as “the Line King,” As you walk through the exhibit, and look closely at his work, you can really appreciate the power of his lines. The exhibit contains classic portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald, Jane Fonda and Ringo Starr, as well as cast drawings from theatrical productions of Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and The Glass Menagerie.
If you go, don’t missing seeing the short video of an interview with Hirschfeld. Not only is it interesting to hear him talk about his work, but you also get to see how he creates it.
The exhibit is on view through October 12, 2015.