AL HIRSCHFELD Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Name: Albert Hirschfeld                                                             
Born: 21 June 1903 St. Louis, Missouri                                               
Died: 20 January 2003 New York City, NY                                             
Albert Hirschfeld (June 21, 1903 - January 20, 2003) was a Jewish American           
caricaturist best known for his simple black and white satirical portraits of       
celebrities and Broadway stars.                                                     
Born in St. Louis, Missouri he moved with his family to New York City where he       
received his art training at the Art Students League of New York. In 1924 he         
traveled to Paris and London, where he studied painting, drawing and sculpture.     
When he returned to the United States a friend showed one of his drawings to an     
editor at the New York Herald Tribune, which got him commissions for that           
newspaper and The New York Times.                                                   
Hirschfeld's art style is unique, and he is considered to be one of the most         
important figures in contemporary caricature, having influenced countless           
cartoonists. Hirschfeld's caricatures are almost always drawings of pure line       
with simple black ink on white paper with little to no shading or crosshatching.     
His drawings always manage to capture a likeness using the minimum number of         
lines. Though his caricatures often exaggerate and distort the faces of his         
subjects he is often described as being a fundamentally "nicer" caricaturist         
than many of his contemporaries, and being drawn by Hirschfeld was considered an     
honor more than an insult. Nonetheless he did face some complaints from his         
editors over the years; in a late-1990s interview with The Comics Journal           
Hirschfeld recounted how one editor told him his drawings of Broadway's "beautiful   
people" looked like "a bunch of animals". Hirschfeld generally dismissed these       
complaints, and most observers would agree that time proved him right.               
He was commissioned by CBS to illustrate a preview magazine featuring the           
network's new TV programming in fall 1963. One of the programs was Candid Camera,   
and Hirschfeld's caricature of the show's host Allen Funt outraged Funt so much     
he threatened to leave the network if the magazine were issued. Hirschfeld           
prepared a slightly different likeness, perhaps more flattering, but he and the     
network pointed out to Funt that the artwork prepared for newspapers and some       
other print media had been long in preparation and it was too late to withdraw       
it. Funt relented but insisted that what could be changed would have to be.         
Newsweek ran a squib on the controversy.