Al Hirschfeld: A Celebration of Hollywood and Broadway

May 30 – September 14, 2014

This show featured nearly 50 drawings and prints spanning Hirschfeld’s career.  The exhibit highlighted icons from the Great White Way and the Silver Screen including John Wayne, Carol Channing, Richard Burton, Zero Mostel, Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn, and Marlon Brando.

Among the art in this show was a lithograph of Marilyn Monroe’s famous sewer gate scene from The Seven Year Itch; Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, and a white haired Charlie Chaplin, drawn during a Hirschfeld interview in 1942.  A sultry drawing of Sophia Loren entwined with Anthony Perkins from their 1962 film, Five Miles to Midnight also greeted visitors to the exhibition.

The name Al Hirschfeld has virtually been synonymous with Broadway since his first theatrical drawing was published in December 1926. But by then, he was a six-year veteran of movie studio publicity and art departments, having already worked for Goldwyn, Universal, Pathe, Selznick, Fox, First National, and Warner Brothers. This exhibition highlights his contributions to both the theater and film worlds. “Hirschfeld was the court artist for all the performing arts,” says David Leopold, Archivist of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, “but he drew more of Broadway and Hollywood than anything else..or anyone else.

Hirschfeld’s depictions of Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! and Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof in this exhibition, capture two high water marks on Broadway, but the show also includes drawings featuring the Lunts, Jimmy Durante, Ethel Merman, and playwright Arthur Miller, “so no one will go home unhappy,” says Leopold.

The artwork covers a staggering 71 years of popular culture in America, from an autographed drawing of vaudeville comedian Billy B. Van from 1929 to a gouache painting of Grucho Marx from 2000. The Huntsville Museum of Art brings the best of Hirschfeld to Alabama.

-Katherine Marshall