One of New York's most iconic hotels celebrates one of New York's most iconic artists in a unique art installation. The Algonquin Hotel Celebrates The Hirschfeld Century, will be presented in the legendary lobby of the Algonquin Hotel November 19, 2015 through March 9, 2016.
The Algonquin Hotel Celebrates The Hirschfeld Century features 30 over-sized Hirschfeld portraits depicting some of The Algonquin's most famous residents. From the top of the lobby's iconic oak paneling up to the 22-foot high ceilings, the likes of John Barrymore, Harpo Marx, Tennessee Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, peer down at visitors. The artwork for the hit musical, My Fair Lady, which was written in Lerner and Loewe's suite on the ninth floor of the hotel, will be shown. The Round Table returns home at last as Hirschfeld's definitive portrait featuring Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, and more is displayed at the spot where the original vicious circle once gathered over spiked drinks and witticisms. Additionally, the installation features favorite Hirschfeld portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley, Carol Channing, John Lithgow, David Letterman, Jack Lemmon, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Laurel & Hardy, Fanny Brice & George Jessel, Frank Langella, Mary Martin, Isaac Stern and more legendary Broadway, Hollywood and recording artists.
"The Algonquin Hotel was designated a New York City Landmark in 1987. Nine years later, Al Hirschfeld was declared a New York City Living Landmark. So it doesn't get more quintessentially New York than The Algonquin Hotel Celebrates The Hirschfeld Century," says David Leopold, Creative Director, The Al Hirschfeld Foundation. "Hirschfeld had frequented The Algonquin throughout his entire life. Many members of the Algonquin Round Table helped launch his career, reflecting a century in art. Now, Al Hirschfeld returns to The Algonquin with more than thirty friends to celebrate a century of art and performance, some of which was created in the hotel."
"Just steps away from Fifth Avenue, the theatre district, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Radio City Music Hall, this celebration of Hirschfeld's work may be the most entertaining destination to warm up with a cocktail, hot chocolate, or snack after a day of theatergoing, site-seeing, or holiday shopping," says General Manager Manny Rappenecker. "Relax, look up at the portraits, guess who is who and see if you can find the NINAs." The Lobby Lounge serves cocktails and bar bites daily starting at 11:30AM and also offers pre-theater dining.
The art installation at The Algonquin Hotel coincides with the recent release of The Hirschfeld Century: Portrait of an Artist and His Age, published by Alfred A. Knopf, edited and with text by David Leopold.
The hotel encourages all to share photos and memories with both the Algonquin and Hirschfeld Foundation. Complimentary WiFi is available in the lobby and restaurant. Guests can use #AlgonquinHirschfeld to tag posts and share them with @AlgonquinNYC and @AlHirschfeld on Instagram and Twitter.
Acclaimed portraitist Al Hirschfeld (1903–2003) immortalized celebrities and Broadway productions with his iconic linear calligraphic drawings for nine decades, establishing himself as one of the most important contemporary portrait artists. This spring, the New-York Historical Society will present The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, on view from May 22 through October 12, 2015, honoring the renowned portraitist whose work documented the performing arts in the 20th century. Organized by Louise Kerz Hirschfeld and guest curated by David Leopold of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, the exhibition will feature more than 100 original drawings, from the artist’s early work for Hollywood studios to his last drawings for The New York Times.
Known by many as “the Line King,” Al Hirschfeld was widely considered one of the most important figures in contemporary drawing and caricature. Celebrities considered it an honor to be “Hirschfelded” and his drawings brought the energy and exuberance of Broadway to the page. The exhibition will feature classic portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald, Jane Fonda and Ringo Starr, as well as cast drawings from such landmark productions as Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and The Glass Menagerie. Also on view will be selections from the artist’s sketchbooks, ephemera, and related videos.
“Al Hirschfeld’s work was ubiquitous for 82 years—in Hollywood, The New York Times, Broadway, film studios, and TV Guide covers,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “We are thrilled to feature these iconic drawings that capture popular culture of the 20th century.”
“Al Hirschfeld revered the theater, with all its creative aspects. His drawings continue to mesmerize us with their fluidity, composition, and cinematic style,” stated Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, President of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. “He glorified the artistic genius of those who created cinema and theater.”
Visitors to The Hirschfeld Century will explore the artist’s career chronologically, beginning with his pre-caricature days at Selznick Pictures in the early 1920s to his last works in theater, film, television, music and dance in 2002. A video showing Hirschfeld’s working process, from inception to completion, will also be on view.
Among the highlights is a 1928 drawing for MGM depicting the fledgling comedy team Laurel and Hardy in a bed with a brightly colored blanket, ingeniously made from a collage of wallpaper samples. An image of actress Ruby Keeler from No, No Nanette (1971) captures the wild energy of the 60-year old actress in her comeback role, enthusiastically tap dancing with arms and legs a-blur. Portraits of more recent stage legends like Jerry Orbach (in 42nd Street, 1980) and Sandra Bernhard (in I’m Still Here… Damn It!, 1998) evoke their big personalities with sparing lines.
When his daughter Nina was born in late 1945, Hirschfeld began to hide her name in the designs of his drawings, creating a hide-and-seek game for his viewers that Hirschfeld called “a national insanity.” Visitors to the exhibition can continue the search, but might initially be stumped by Nina’s Revenge (1966)–until they realize that her curly hair and folds of her clothes contain her proud parents’ names (“Al” and “Dolly”).
Programming and Publication
On May 28, Louise Kerz Hirschfeld, Robert Osborne and Harold Prince will discuss the caricaturist’s life and legacy through his art, career, and personal relationships (for more information, visit nyhistory.org).
In conjunction with the exhibition, Alfred A. Knopf will publish the first in-depth study of Hirschfeld’s art. The Hirschfeld Century: A Portrait of The Artist and His Age (May 2015) is a comprehensive look at Hirschfeld’s career, written by David Leopold, guest curator of the exhibition and Creative Director of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. The book includes more than 300 illustrations, many of which have never been in any published Hirschfeld collection before.
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