The Al Hirschfeld Foundation is proud to announce the latest in a series of online exhibitions exploring the work of one of the most iconic artists of the last century. As America engages in one of the most closely-watched presidential elections in history, The Al Hirschfeld Foundation has launched “West Wing Ha! – Presidents & Their Challengers As Seen By Hirschfeld.”
Now live at AlHirschfeldFoundation.org/exhibitions though through Election Day, November 3, the online exhibition features Hirschfeld’s drawings depicting Presidents, First Ladies and presidential candidates including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower, Bess and Harry S. Truman Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Jesse Jackson.
As well as representations of presidents, historical and fictional, he drew from stage screen and television including 1776, Assassins, Mr. President, The Best Man, Abe Lincoln In Illinois, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, The Manchurian Candidate and a previously unpublished drawing of the popular television show The West Wing.
“Now for the first time, The Foundation has gathered 25 pieces that document Hirschfeld’s view of the Oval Office occupants from an early sculpture of Abraham Lincoln to television’s ‘The West Wing more than eighty years later,” writes David Leopold, Creative Director for the AHF in the introduction to the exhibition.
“Hirschfeld drew the President and any challengers in good times and in bad times, in musicals and in dramas, and in thrillers and comedies. Hirschfeld’s presidential drawings earned him two private visits to the White House, artwork on an aircraft carrier, a copy of LBJ’s State of the Union address, and probably played a role is his receiving a National Medal of the Arts (awarded posthumously in 2003 at the White House). No matter what your party, join Hirschfeld on the campaign trail headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” In keeping with the spirit of Hirschfeld, this exhibition is free and open to everyone.
The show is part of the AHF’s continuing mission to promote interest in the theater and the performing and visual arts. For this exhibition there is a special gift shop of merchandise connected to the exhibition at online at click here.
Go behind the lines of Hirschfeld’s art with “The Hirschfeld Century Podcast,” nominated as “Best NYC podcast” by the 2020 Apple Awards. A special episode dedicated to the works featured in “West Wing Ha!” will be available starting October 19, 2020 from AlHirschfeldFoundation.org/podcasts, iTunes and other popular podcast sites.
The mission of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation is to promote interest in the theater and visual arts by supporting non-profit museums, libraries, theaters and similar cultural institutions. The Foundation fulfills its mission through grants and exhibitions of Hirschfeld’s art . The Foundation maintains an extensive collection of Hirschfeld artworks and lends and/or donates pieces to institutions all over the world. Another primary mission is arts education, which the Foundation does primarily with the Hirschfeld Arts Curriculum. Created in conjunction with the New York City Board of Education, The Hirschfeld Arts Curriculum is an innovative visual/performing arts education program based on Hirschfeld’s art to engage students K through 12 in a variety of arts activities. Our programs encourage writing, reading, researching, observing, movement and performance to learn about the arts, its history, and the opportunities for education and employment in the arts field. The web based Al Hirschfeld curriculum is easy to use, and is intended to be a free resource for teachers and students. www.AlHirschfeldFoundation.org
Al Hirschfeld’s drawings stand as one of the most innovative efforts in establishing the visual language of modern art through caricature in the 20th century. A self-described “characterist,” his signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades (including a 75-year relationship with The New York Times) as well as numerous book and record covers and 15 postage stamps. Hirschfeld said his contribution was to take the character, created by the playwright and portrayed by the actor, and reinvent it for the reader. Playwright Terrence McNally wrote: “No one ‘writes’ more accurately of the performing arts than Al Hirschfeld. He accomplishes on a blank page with his pen and ink in a few strokes what many of us need a lifetime of words to say.” In 1945, Hirschfeld celebrated the birth of his daughter Nina by placing her name in the background of a drawing. What the artist described as an innocent prank soon became a personal trademark and national obsession, as he began hiding numerous NINA’s throughout his drawings for years to come. He is represented in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery, and Harvard’s Theater Collection. Hirschfeld authored several books including Manhattan Oases and Show Business is No Business in addition to 10 collections of his work. He was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996, and a Living Legend by The Library of Congress in 2000. Just before his death in January 2003, he learned he was to be awarded the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts and inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters. The winner of two Tony Awards, he was given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003. The Martin Beck Theater was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.