The legendary illustrator Al Hirschfeld, known as the “Line King,” lived for a century–from 1903 to 2003–and spent the majority of that century drawing pen-and-ink caricatures of Broadway and Hollywood stars. His drawings of the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sidney Poitier, Ringo Starr, and Julia Roberts were ubiquitous in the New York Times, Broadway, film studios, and TV Guide covers.
The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, opening in May at the New York Historical Society, presents 100 of the Line King’s greatest drawings, from his early work for Hollywood studios to his last drawings for the New York Times before his death.
The collected drawings reveal how Hirschfeld captured a century of celebrities–perhaps more thoroughly and originally than any other individual artist–in a way that exposed their characters far better than airbrushed photographs. In an age of rampant celebrity worship, these caricatures took glitzy performers down a notch, exaggerating their flawed humanity instead of playing into the illusion of their perfection. See more in our slide show above.