No artist ever captured Harlem’s highs and bluesy lows like this Master of the Performing Curve.
Hirschfeld began his artistic Harlem odyssey six decades ago, charting that legendary New York neighborhood’s special rhythms and moods in splashy feverish hues. Hirschfeld’s Harlem opens onto a special portfolio of these full-color works, a pictorial essay of the Swing Era. Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, among a dozen other Harlem artists and critics, supply accompanying commentary, reminiscences and analysis each voice focusing on one portrait. Then it’s back to Hirschfeld in his signature black and white takes on forty Harlem artists and public figures: Gregory Hines, Duke Ellington, James Earl Jones, Ethel Waters and dozens more all have been caught in the creative act by one of our greatest artists. Each drawing is accompanied by a thumbnail narrative by Hirschfeld about the most famous inhabitants and transients of these fabled streets.
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Hirschfeld’s Harlem opens a picture window into nearly a century of Black American artistry and life. It’s a thin line between essence-capturing caricature and insulting cartoon, particularly when it comes to race, so it takes as practiced and bighearted an artist as Hirschfeld (1903-2003), whose caricatures of various cultural figures graced the pages of the New York Times for decades, to take on the challenge of depicting historical Harlem. Parts of this extensive 9″×12″ collection, featuring 30 full-color plates and 90 black-and-white drawings printed on art stock, were originally published, as Hirschfeld says, “in a book the size of a swinging door” the day before Pearl Harbor, with the publisher going bankrupt a few months later. This edition is roughly divided between this original “Harlem Portfolio” of color lithographs and selections from more recent black-and-white line drawings of leading African-American figures.
Perhaps most fun are the drawings, such as “[easyazon_link identifier=”B005G8LZZ0″ locale=”US” tag=”harlemworld-20″]Stompin’ at the Savoy[/easyazon_link],” in which Hirschfeld loses himself in the infectious energy of nighttime Harlem, where stern-faced, impeccably dressed residents blur into crackling lines of movement, individuals becoming manifestations of a neighborhood amazingly rich in history, culture and expression.
Price: $ 31.46