Al Hirschfeld

I've probably been aware of Hirschfeld's art longer than just about any other artist's — except possibly for Dr. Seuss. As a kid, I used to look forward to reading the New York Times on Sundays, and one of my pleasures was hunting for Hirschfeld's daughter Nina's name hidden repeatedly inside her father's caricature on the front page of the theater section. (The tiny number to the right of the signature was a clue, informing the initiate of the number of times the name Nina appeared in that week's drawing.)

When Hirschfeld died in 2003, aged 99, I got all the way through Richard Corliss' obituary in Time before noticing the "14" beside Corliss' byline. My eyes widened, I went back to the beginning of the piece and read it again, more carefully — and, sure enough, tucked away in sentences such as "He put motion and emotion in all his still lifes," 14 Ninas had been carefully hidden away. You can read Corliss' obituary here here, and there's biographical info, lots of drawings, and more about the Ninas available here.

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