NEW YORK, NY.-
The Al Hirschfeld Foundation celebrates Black History Month with its latest online exhibition, Amplified Dignity: Black Dancers Drawn by Hirschfeld. Now live at AlHirschfeldFoundation.org/exhibitions though March 13, the exhibition features Hirschfeld's reflections of legendary 20th Century artists including Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker, Nicholas Brothers, Bunny Briggs, Judith Jamison, Hinton Battle, Maurice Hines, and Honi Coles.
"To be rendered by Hirschfeld is to be immortalized in the fraternity of American popular art," says dance educator, choreographer and dramaturg Melanie George, who has curated Amplified Dignity. "These drawings encapsulate a history of individual and collective opportunity and excellence, as well as disenfranchisement and marginalization. The exhibit contains a mix of well and lesser-known artists, and nameless groups of dancers, who have contributed to the history of dance in America. The images demonstrate reverence for the people and art of New York, especially during the Harlem Renaissance era. The intent is to place these dancers at the center of the cannon, not on the margins. A rightful place, as the foundation and evolution of dance in America is intertwined and indebted to innovation and performances by Black people in America."
Amplified Dignity is the latest exhibition in The Al Hirschfeld Foundation's Black Art Matters series. Having launched last summer with Lost in the Stars: Black Theater Makers Drawn By Hirschfeld, upcoming exhibits in the series will celebrate black film artists and musicians, and the 80th anniversary of the artist's iconic representations of the African-American experience in the 1930's Harlem As Seen By Hirschfeld.,
Go behind the lines of Hirschfeld's art with "The Hirschfeld Century Podcast," nominated as "Best NYC podcast" by the 2020 Apple Awards. A special episode dedicated to the works featured Amplified Dignity: Black Dancers Drawn by Hirschfeld will be available starting February 2, 2021 from AlHirschfeldFoundation.org/podcasts
, iTunes and other popular podcast sites.
Al Hirschfeld's drawings stand as one of the most innovative efforts in establishing the visual language of modern art through caricature in the 20th century. A self-described "characterist," his signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades (including a 75-year relationship with The New York Times) as well as numerous 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."
In 1945, Hirschfeld celebrated the birth of his daughter Nina by placing her name in the background of a drawing. What the artist described as an innocent prank soon became a personal trademark and national obsession, as he began hiding numerous NINA's throughout his drawings for years to come.
He is represented in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery, and Harvard's Theater Collection. Hirschfeld authored several books including Manhattan Oases and Show Business is No Business in addition to 10 collections of his work. He was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996, and a Living Legend by The Library of Congress in 2000. Just before his death in January 2003, he learned he was to be awarded the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts and inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters. The winner of two Tony Awards, he was given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003. The Martin Beck Theater was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.