Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2003 Newsletter

Drawing from the Well of Imagination: Al Hirschfeld, 1903-2003

Photograph

Al Hirschfeld's signature on the Ransom Center's
"Authors' Door." Photo by Eric Beggs.

Al Hirschfeld, whose inimitable caricatures were synonymous with New York culture for more than 75 years, died at his home in Manhattan on January 20, 2003. He was 99.

Though best known for the caricatures that appeared in the drama pages of The New York Times, Hirschfeld's work has also appeared in other publications and is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Ransom Center's collections contain a number of Mr. Hirschfeld's works.

Though Hirschfeld's work spoke volumes, he never let his art be his sole form of expression. Commenting on defining beauty in a 1986 letter to The New York Times, Hirschfeld expressed his opinion, saying, "Beauty is incapable of being defined scientifically or aesthetically. . . . Beauty may be the limited proportions of a classic Greek sculpture, but it does not have to be -- it could be an ashcan."  

—TW


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