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A Love Affair with Line: Drawings by Al Hirschfeld

June 6 through September 8, 2002

A Love Affair with Line: Drawings by Al Hirschfeld was a retrospective exhibition celebrating the draftsman's extraordinary career. Hirschfeld began depicting theater subjects in the mid-1920s and has chronicled generations of Broadway performers, playwrights, producers, and critics. He also has drawn inspiration from dance, film, and television, as well as from the landmarks of New York. Many of his distinctive drawings were first published in The New York Times during his more than sixty-year association with the paper.

The exhibition comprised nearly fifty drawings and a selection of sketchbooks by Al Hirschfeld, ranging from 1927 to 2002. In addition to portraits of actors, playwrights, and directors, various depictions of theatrical scenes, designs for book illustrations, and a self-portrait were on view. From his 1927 drawing of Ethel Waters in Africana to a depiction of Anne Bancroft in the 2002 production of Occupant, the development of Hirschfeld's signature style—a combination of exuberant line and a quick, generous wit—was evident in a selection of works spanning more than seventy years. Images of political subjects, including The Nazi Party Manipulates World Leaders (1939) reveal the artist's sensitivity to the world beyond Broadway and his remarkable skill as a political cartoonist.

The works on exhibition were from the Melvin R. Seiden Collection at the Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.

A Love Affair with Line: Drawings by Al Hirschfeld is supported by The Henry Luce Foundation, Susan W. Dryfoos, Robert F. R. Ballard, Martin E. Segal, and Mr. and Mrs. John Elliott, Jr.