Al Hirschfeld's "Harlem" to Be Reissued February 2004

News   Al Hirschfeld's "Harlem" to Be Reissued February 2004
Hot on the heels of the republication of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld's "The Speakeasies of 1932" comes news of the reissue of another long-out-of print Hirschfeld volume: "Harlem."

The coffee table book, in which Hirschfeld depicts some iconic Harlem scenes from first half of the 20th century, will be released by Applause Books in February 2004. In addition to the original drawings, the tome will feature 20 new short essays by prominent African-Americans, sketches of black artists Hirschfeld created after the initial publication of the book, and some Hirschfeld drawings never before published.

Among the figures providing the brief essays—one for each of the original artworks—are Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Savion Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell and George C. Wolfe. Many of these are accompanied by small Hirschfeld caricatures of the writer in question.

Introductory essays were written by William Saroyan and Gail Lumet Buckley.

The 126-page book is priced at $75.

Hirschfeld died on Jan. 20, 2003. *

Before Al Hirschfeld became established as Broadway's resident caricaturist, he published a volume of drawings called "The Speakeasies of 1932," which rendered in pen and ink the late night haunts of Prohibition New York City. That book, redesigned by set and costume designer Tony Walton and Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, with an introduction by journalist and author Pete Hamill, was rereleased in book stores on Oct. 1.

The large book is a reminder of how much of the New York City of the last century Hirschfeld knew first hand. He depicts such once infamous, now disappeared joints as The Stonewall, the Epicure and The Bath Club—places that thrived under the nose of the police during the 13 years Prohibition was in effect. Hirschfeld's drawing style will be unfamiliar to those who cherish his line-driven theatre work. The more shaded, robust, full-bodied figures are reminiscent of the work of Miguel Covarrubias, a Mexican-born caricaturist who reigned in the '20, working for magazines like Vanity Fair. (Ironically, the reissue was printed in Mexico.)

Each drawing includes a practical aspect as well. The text for each picture is punctuated by the recipe for a drink favored by that speakeasy's owner or barkeep. Among the once-popular libations are the Gin Daisy, Tom and Jerry, Brandy Flip, Leroi Cocktail, George's Special, Bronx Cocktail and Horse's Neck. (Some featured cocktails, such as the Martini and Manhattan, remain timeless.)

The text was written by Hirschfeld and Gordon Kahn. Budapest-born Kahn was a well-known journalist at the time who affected a monocle. He also wrote "Hollywood on Trial: The Story of the Ten Who Were Indicted," a book about the Hollywood Ten. Throughout the '30s and '40s, he wrote a string of screenplays for various B movies, but was himself eventually blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Kahn died in 1962.

"The Speakeasies of 1932" (Applause Books) is priced at $32.95.

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