His work has graced the cover of The New York Times Sunday drama section so often he practically "owns" it. His work has appeared on the cover of more TV Guides than that of any other artist. No star could be said to have "arrived" until they've been stylized by this master of exquisitely drawn lines. In its wit and evocativeness, his work ranks as character portraiture of classic stature. In its amazing deftness and economy of line, is revealed a serious technician and artist with a unique flavor and style. His work fixed, unmistakably, a period, a place and a culture in a way that might well be classed as social history. He sits well with the likes of Daumier and Nast.
Though there is a cartoonlike quality to his work, there is seldom the traditional cartoonist's "gag" involved in any of his drawings. Instead, the humor is in the sometimes outrageously distorted, yet instantly recognizable face. However, Hirschfeld deftly insightful "portraits" in pen and ink masked a less well-known side to him. He was a consummate artist and painter, exhibiting skills as an expert lithographer as well. He held many one-man shows in cities all over the US and abroad. His work is in the permanent collections of major museums as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Israel's Hamima Museum.
Appropriate to his show business roots, especially Broadway, there is a lyrical, dance-like quality to Hirschfeld work. To a degree that many other artists have envied, there is an incomparable rhythm in his work that seems so effortlessly graceful it's almost airborne. Like the dancers he loved to depict, his art seems almost to defy gravity. Al Hirschfeld was born in 1905, and though in retirement now, the 93-year-old artist continues in relatively good health, his pencil and drawing pad, never far from his side.