Human Experiments

MARCH 22, 2013

My cover for this week’s The Nation illustrates the interesting case of New York’s Left/Right Governor Andrew Cuomo. In a good read by Eric Alterman we see that 2016 considerations make him a celebrated and frustrating figure to the people who voted for him.

My solution was to see if it were possible to render three portraits in one. This would involve each eye serving two different aspects of the face. How to make this work? I have discovered that you might be very confident about an idea but you won’t really know until you start sketching (reminder to my students: it’s all about the sketch). It so happened that this one came together fast. Great thanks to Roane Carey, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Milton Glaser, Sue Walsh.


This falls under the category of  what the great designer and author Steven Heller calls “human experiments”, the using of features in unexpected manipulation that, one hopes, makes sense as illustration. Below are what might be some other examples of this.


This for a book called “Fold and Tuck”, taking the wonderful Al Jaffee’s Mad magazine fold-in page and using this with only heads. For example, when you folded Jerry Lewis into Ronald Reagan . . .

. . . you got George Bush Sr.
For a while I experimented in what was once called Topsy Turvys, seeing how an image that changes when you looked at it upside down. So here, reunifying Germany, was Helmut Kohl . . .
. . . and also Otto von Bismarck, another unifier.
Here’s a fantasia on Campaign '88, composed of body parts.
I think this week in the back of my mind was this piece by one of our Olympians, Al Hirschfeld, who saw similarities between Broadway comedians Teddy Hart and Jimmy Savo in “The Boys From Syracuse”. Mistaken identity was part of the plot. He used this solution in several other pieces as well.
Here’s a piece sent to me by my friend composer and Renaissance Mensch Arthur Maisel. A beauty by Leonard Baskin.