Al Hirschfeld Behind The Lines: A Zoom visual visit of the Hirschfeld Century (ON DEMAND)
Join David Leopold as he takes us on a tour of the Hirschfeld Century, an 82-year era in which Al Hirschfeld both recorded and defined so much of popular culture, especially through his drawings of productions on Broadway and in Hollywood. He was there at the birth of television and captured its first half-century. He recorded more popular music than any MP3, CD, LP, or wax cylinder ever did. His drawings of dance are among his most accomplished works. Leopold has spent 25 years studying Hirschfeld’s work, the first 13 as Hirschfeld’s Archivist, visiting him in his studio once or twice a week. In addition to curating exhibitions at the Library of Congress, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the Academy of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles among others, he is the Creative Director of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation. His book, The Hirschfeld Century: A Portrait of the Artist and His Age (Knopf), has been called by The Washington Post, “An instant classic.” Booklist declared, “Leopold emulates the economy and fluidity of Hirschfeld’s drawings in this star-studded, anecdote-rich, critically clarifying, and thoroughly enlightening portrait of the portraits.” His illustrated talk will show you rarely seen images as well as old favorites.
David Leopold is an author and curator who has organized exhibitions for institutions around the country including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, the James A. Michener Art Museum, and the Field Museum in Chicago. In California, he has organized exhibitions for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, as well as installations at animation studios, and commercial galleries. Internationally, he has curated shows for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Filmmuseum in Frankfurt and Berlin. He has curated and designed a number of exhibitions/installations for non- traditional exhibition spaces from courthouses to botanical gardens.
He organized the archive of Al Hirschfeld’s work for the artist, and is now the Creative Director for the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, where he co-hosts The Hirschfeld Century Podcast. His latest book, The Hirschfeld Century: A Portrait of the Artist and His Age, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2015 to coincide with a major retrospective that Leopold curated for the New York Historical Society has won universal acclaim. The Washington Post called it an “instant classic.” Amazon listed it as one of the “Top 100 Books of 2015.” His other books include To Stir, Inform, and Inflame: The Art of Tony Auth (Camino Books 2012), David Levine’s American Presidents (Fantagraphics, 2008); Irving Berlin’s Show Business: Broadway-Hollywood-America, (Harry N. Abrams, 2005 and listed as a “Top Gift Pick” by the Boston Globe and New York Times); Hirschfeld’s Hollywood (Abrams, 2001). He also authored a number of monographs on underappreciated artists for various museums.
He works out of his office as Director of The Studio of Ben Solowey, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where he organizes bi-annual exhibitions of Solowey’s works and his contemporaries in Solowey’s magnificent handcrafted studio. Leopold is also the Picture Editor of the award-winning literary magazine, The Lincoln Center Theater Review. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and Pennsylvania Heritage. He served as consultant on the PBS/WNET series Broadway: The American Musical and the Oscar nominated documentary, The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story. In September 2016, Leopold received the Joseph and Joan Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity from Lincoln Center.
Al Hirschfeld's drawings stand as one of the most innovative efforts in establishing the visual language of modern art through caricature.
As a self described "characterist," his signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication in the 20th Century (including a 75 year relationship with The New York Times) as well as numerous posters, programs, 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."