The image above is one of my most prized possessions… a caricature of me by the great Al Hirschfeld. There was no intriguing or unique story behind how I got that piece of art. Not like the story behind my original Mort Drucker. I simply commissioned him to do it. As legendary as Hirschfeld was, he was still available to do personal commissions. Expensive, but a genuine treasure.
Hirschfeld died in 2003 just 5 months shy of his 100th birthday. Almost 8 years after his passing, this month the last chapter in his amazing career is finally coming to a close. His widow, Louise Hirschfeld Cullman, has remarried and is selling the townhome on East 95th Street containing the artist’s studio which has remained untouched since his death. Thus, the space in which Hirschfeld created many thousands of his well known illustrations is being cleared out… the official end of an era and the legacy of a great illustrator.
Hirschfeld’s famous barber’s chair and well worn oak drawing table will be on permanent display at the The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center. Actually, although this barber’s chair was a vintage one, it was not the original barber’s chair Hirschfeld sat in for decades. That one was worn away to nothing and all that’s left is the base which on display at the gallery of Margo Feiden, who has represented Hirschfeld since 1969. This chair was given to him in 1993 to replace that one. Still a piece of caricature history, though.
I was lucky enough to meet and interview Mr. Hirschfeld when I served as president of the National Caricaturist Network (now the ISCA) in 1999. He was a great inspiration to me, and I will be visiting his barber’s chair and drawing board someday soon.