Stephen Kroninger

On View May 22 – October 12, 2015
Acclaimed portraitist Al Hirschfeld (1903–2003) immortalized celebrities and Broadway productions with his iconic linear calligraphic drawings for nine decades, establishing himself as one of the most important contemporary portrait artists. This spring, the New-York Historical Society will present The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, on view from May 22 through October 12, 2015, honoring the renowned portraitist whose work documented the performing arts in the 20th century. Organized by Louise Kerz Hirschfeld and guest curated by David Leopold of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, the exhibition will feature more than 100 original drawings, from the artist’s early work for Hollywood studios to his last drawings for The New York Times.
Known by many as “the Line King,” Al Hirschfeld was widely considered one of the most important figures in contemporary drawing and caricature. Celebrities considered it an honor to be “Hirschfelded” and his drawings brought the energy and exuberance of Broadway to the page. The exhibition will feature classic portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald, Jane Fonda and Ringo Starr, as well as cast drawings from such landmark productions as Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and The Glass Menagerie. Also on view will be selections from the artist’s sketchbooks, ephemera, and related videos.
“Al Hirschfeld’s work was ubiquitous for 82 years—in Hollywood, The New York Times, Broadway, film studios, and TV Guide covers,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “We are thrilled to feature these iconic drawings that capture popular culture of the 20th century.”
“Al Hirschfeld revered the theater, with all its creative aspects. His drawings continue to mesmerize us with their fluidity, composition, and cinematic style,” stated Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, President of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. “He glorified the artistic genius of those who created cinema and theater.”
Exhibition Highlights
Visitors to The Hirschfeld Century will explore the artist’s career chronologically, beginning with his pre-caricature days at Selznick Pictures in the early 1920s to his last works in theater, film, television, music and dance in 2002. A video showing Hirschfeld’s working process, from inception to completion, will also be on view.
Among the highlights is a 1928 drawing for MGM depicting the fledgling comedy team Laurel and Hardy in a bed with a brightly colored blanket, ingeniously made from a collage of wallpaper samples. An image of actress Ruby Keeler from No, No Nanette (1971) captures the wild energy of the 60-year old actress in her comeback role, enthusiastically tap dancing with arms and legs a-blur. Portraits of more recent stage legends like Jerry Orbach (in 42nd Street, 1980) and Sandra Bernhard (in I’m Still Here… Damn It!, 1998) evoke their big personalities with sparing lines.
When his daughter Nina was born in late 1945, Hirschfeld began to hide her name in the designs of his drawings, creating a hide-and-seek game for his viewers that Hirschfeld called “a national insanity.” Visitors to the exhibition can continue the search, but might initially be stumped by Nina’s Revenge (1966)–until they realize that her curly hair and folds of her clothes contain her proud parents’ names (“Al” and “Dolly”).
Programming and Publication
On May 28, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Robert Osborne and Harold Prince will discuss the caricaturist’s life and legacy through his art, career, and personal relationships (for more information, visit
In conjunction with the exhibition, Alfred A. Knopf will publish the first in-depth study of Hirschfeld’s art. The Hirschfeld Century: A Portrait of The Artist and His Age (May 2015) is a comprehensive look at Hirschfeld’s career, written by David Leopold, guest curator of the exhibition and Creative Director of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. The book includes more than 300 illustrations, many of which have never been in any published Hirschfeld collection before.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.

F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles in Rang Tang, 1927.

Laurel and Hardy, 1928

Fred Astaire and Claire Luce in the Gay Divorcee, 1932

Jumbo, 1935

Strike up the Band, 1940

Are You With It, 1945

Nat King Cole Trio, 1946

Guys and Dolls, 1950

Liberace, 1954

West Side Story, 1957

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in the Defiant Ones, 1958.

Fiddler on the Roof, 1964

Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in the Sound of Music, 1965

George Segal and Barbara Streisand in the Owl and the Pussycat

Kabuki Sketch, 1975

Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha, 1977

Eugene Ormandy, 1983

Whoopi Goldberg in Whoopi Goldberg, 1984

John Lithgow in M Butterfly, 1988

Isaac Stern, 1990

Jerry Garcia, 1995

Jerry Seinfeld, 1998

Hairspray, 2002

Tommy Tune in White Tie and Tails, 2002
Photo by David Simson (late 90's)
Friedman/Kroninger RADIO
Frank Sinatra by Sam Berman

Listen to Drew Friedman and Stephen Kroninger live online this coming Monday at 12.40 PM (EST), on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show as they discuss their upcoming presentation on Forgotten Caricaturists: THE LEONARD LOPATE SHOW
Join us at the Society of Illustrators on May 6th for an entertaining visual presentation discussing and celebrating the long forgotten works of Al Freuh, Einar Nerman, William Auerbach-Levy, Lou Hirshman, Jacques Kapralik, Alex Gard, Sam Berman, George Wachsteter, Alan Jedla, Abel Ianiro, Bill Utterback and John Johns.
$15 Non-Members | $10 Members | $7 Seniors/students (Undergraduate only)

Grab a drink before the lecture at the Society's Happy Hour held in the third floor Dining Room.  The bar will also be open following the lecture, and will be serving specialty cocktails and a small plates buffet.  
About the Artists
Award winning artist Drew Friedman's comics and illustrations have appeared in Art Spiegelman's Raw, R. Crumb's Weirdo, American Splendor, Heavy Metal, National Lampoon, SPY, MAD, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Observer, etc, as well as creating numerous book, CD and DVD covers. His work has been collected in five anthologies. Drew Friedman's Sideshow Freaks was published in 2011. Steven Heller in the The New York Times wrote of his three volumes of portraiture of Old Jewish Comedians: "A festival of drawing virtuosity and fabulous craggy faces. Friedman might very well be the Vermeer of the Borscht Belt". The Society of Illustrators hosted a showing of his Old Jewish Comedians artwork in 2014. His latest book of portraits, Heroes of the Comics, was published by Fantagraphics with a foreword by Al Jaffee. The sequel More Heroes of the Comics is due out in 2016. Friedman lives in PA with his wife and frequent collaborator K. Bidus.

Stephen Kroninger's collages have appeared in nearly every major newspaper and magazine in the United States, as well as in many publications around the world. His work was the subject of an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the only time the museum devoted a one-person show to an illustrator. His art can be found in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Kroninger is also the author/illustrator of three award-winning children's books. He created animation for an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He recently received a gold medal and the Stevan Dohanos Award from the Society of Illustrators.
Benito Mussolini by Louis Hirshman

Through some incredible sleuthing we have been in contact with Hirshman's son who has provided us with close to twenty color photograph's of his father's work for this event. Some, including this Mussolini, haven't been seen in nearly eighty years. His son asked that I not post the photos online so if you want to see the work in color you'll have to attend our talk on Wednesday evening beginning at 6:30. Hope to see you there.
Grace Church School Friday Morning
 This is the latest piece in the New York City series that I've been working on over the past couple of decades. This is Grace Church Lower School at 86 4th avenue. It measures 32 x 40 inches.
 Following are a few details and after that some iPhone grabs of the work in progress.


 The first decision was whether to leave the museum board white or paint it a solid color as a background. I went with white. The second decision was to remove the cat from on top of my work space.

 In my enthusiasm I cut the wrong pieces for this upper window as you'll see later. I also had to decide if this window would be true(r) to the size as it appears in life. If so, it would extend beyond the border. I decided to follow a lesson learned years ago from looking at Picasso. I would squeeze the window so that it fit within the border. In many Picasso figure drawings and paintings he would forshorten the figure so that it would fit in its entirety on the page/canvas rather than adhere to its actual proportions which would have extended beyond the page. It also brought to mind something I'd read crdited to Stanley Kubrick, "You can make it real or you can make it interesting." In general, both these things repeat often in my head as I work.

My mistake was in seeing one window as a template for the other.

 Here I began laying in some shapes for the doors to give me a general idea of their placement in relation to the rest of the piece.

 Again for placement. I cut out shapes for where the windows on the doors were to go. These were never intended to remain for the final piece.

 Beginning to add people. This was before completing the door.

Back to the doors.

 Discovering my error, tearing out the previous window and adding this correct one.

 Collage as I do it is completely improvisational. The grey hat in the doorway is the beginnings of an adult who never materialized.

 The blue in the corner is the beginnings of a child in a blue coat who was to be holding his parent or guardian's hand. He also never materialized.

Beginnings of a child who did make it into the final piece.

A new child. At the bottom are rejected variations for her sleeve as well as an alternate hat. There are also remnants of the child who was to be holding an adult's hand among other discarded pieces including a brown boot for an adult who was never to be.

New parent with two variations on her glasses above her head

Placement windows

All of the clippings here were cut for variations on the man's face.

These clippings are also from work on the man's face.

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