Cultural and literary notes, plus self-guided walks, courtesy of Walking Off the Big Apple, a strolling guide to New York City.
In a Window Gallery: Al Hirschfeld on Eugene O'Neill
Those of us who grew up with a keen interest in the theater certainly know the wonderful drawings of Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003), the celebrated American caricaturist known for his Broadway portraits. Witty and with a sharp sense of observation, Hirschfeld created elegant line drawings that lifted the work to a high level of modern art. When each new Hirschfeld illustration appeared in The New York Times, as they did so for several decades and for multiple generations, his fans would spend a long time with the drawing, admiring his dead-on caricatures of celebrities and eagerly locating each "Nina," the name of his daughter and whose name he hid in the drawings. Such a lively and fun spirit infuses the caricatures that you would never figure Hirschfeld would make a great interpreter of the work of the more somber playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953) much less be a good friend.
A wonderful display of Hirschfeld's interpretation of O'Neill in NYU's Kimmel Center Window Gallery in the Village proves otherwise. Each window is devoted to one play, illustrated with Hirschfeld's documentation of multiple productions over decades - famous originals, beginning with Strange Interlude (1928) as well as many successful revivals, including those on TV and on film. He outlived his playwright friend by nearly five decades, interpreting O'Neill through many posthumous productions, including the original production of the autobiographical Long Day's Journey Into Night (1956). [Continued]