Heirs of Hirschfeld Caricature Broadway
If one man personifies the ultimate Broadway cartoonist it was Al Hirschfeld who passed away in 2003 at the age of 99. For the greater part of the 20th century, Hirschfeld caricatured virtually every theater actor and actress appearing in New York. Today, that mantle has been picked up by a group of young cartoonists, many of them working in Hirschfeld’s magical line style.
The New York Times is reporting:
Several living artists still document that Broadway energy, including Richard Baratz, whose celebrity caricatures line the walls of Sardi’s, and James McMullan, whose posters have cataloged the seasons at Lincoln Center. But since Hirschfeld’s death in 2003, at the age of 99, there has been no clear heir apparent to his title as Broadway’s go-to illustrator.
Not that the pad-and-pencil tradition of drawing Broadway is extinct. (Shrinking, yes, but not dead.) The artist Victor Juhasz, referring to Hirschfeld, writes: “His work was clearly distinctive but by no means the final statement on Broadway illustrations.”
The art of today’s theater illustrators and caricaturists is featured regularly in magazines, playbills and online. (With the exception of the work of Mr. McMullan, however, most show posters these days are photographed or done using computer software, not drawn.) Most lucratively, their pieces are given out in limited editions as gifts on opening or closing nights, or are commissioned for private collections. (Corporate gigs help pay the rest of the bills.)