Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Summer 2001 Newsletter

Al Hirschfeld Visits

Photograph of Al Hirschfeld at the Ransom Center, December 2000 by Pete Smith.
Al Hirschfeld at the Ransom Center, December 2000. Photograph by Pete Smith.

Gouache on board: Ernest Hemingway Reads Ulysses at the Stork Club by Al Hirschfeld. Courtesy of the artist.
Ernest Hemingway Reads Ulysses at the Stork Club
Al Hirschfeld
date unknown
Gouache on board
Courtesy of the artist

Last December the ninety-seven-year-old American caricature artist, Al Hirschfeld, and his wife Louise took the train from New York to Austin to visit the Ransom Center. Hirschfeld is known for his drawings portraying theater and film personalities. His work has appeared in almost every major publication of the twentieth century. In addition to New York newspapers, his work has appeared either in or on the cover of TIME, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post, Entertainment Weekly, Holiday, and Rolling Stone to name a few. There have been six published collections of his work, and he has written and illustrated three others.

During his December visit, Hirschfeld toured the Center, and spoke of his connection to several of our archives including the David O. Selznick Collection and the Miguel Covarrubias caricatures in the Nickolas Muray Collection of Mexican Art. At the age of eighteen Hirschfeld became art director for Selznick Studios, and in the 1920s he befriended the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and shared a studio with him in New York. The Ransom Center has seventeen works by Al Hirschfeld many of which he had not seen in over thirty years. Hirschfeld was delighted to see the drawings and reminisced about several of the celebrities and literary figures he drew including Hemingway, Barbara Streisand in the production I Can Get It for You Wholesale, and Alec Guiness in Dylan.

Hirschfeld's drawing Ernest Hemingway Reads Ulysses at the Stork Club, is on display in the Semblance: A Portrait Sampler exhibition this summer at the Ransom Center's Leeds Gallery. This fall two exhibitions will open featuring his work, Hirschfeld's Hollywood at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Hirschfeld's New York at the Museum of the City of New York.

— Leslie Wearb Hirsch, Art Collection

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