The American Theatre as Seen by Hirschfeld: 1962–2002

Applause. Sept. 2023. 249p. ed. by David Leopold. ISBN 9781493077267. $60. THEATER
The second of a two-volume set of Hirschfeld’s drawings covers the final 40 years of his rich and productive career. Nearly every well-known theater performer is immortalized by Hirschfeld’s drawings, and this book’s breadth of coverage is dazzling. Each decade is introduced with an appreciative appraisal from notables like Maureen Dowd (“His art reflects his temperament, avoiding nasty or distorted images in favor of the playful”), Terrence McNally (“His work is born of love, respect, and enthusiasm for the performer”), and Jules Feiffer (“He is to caricature what Fred Astaire is to dance”). Hirschfeld’s first color drawings in the New York Times began in 1994 with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, although he’d created color poster artwork as early as the 1940s.
VERDICT A remarkable visual history of Broadway theater in its heyday and the New York performing arts scene until Hirschfeld died in 2003. With its comprehensive indexes, this work is a fitting tribute to an outstanding artist. Should be a mandatory addition to reference art and performing arts collections.
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