November 9, 2000 Hirschfeld Exhibition to Open

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-4604
Website: View the exhibition online

The Library of Congress celebrates a recent "Gift to the Nation" of original drawings by theatrical caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, given by the artist in honor of the Library's Bicentennial, with an exhibition in the Swann Gallery. The exhibition, "Al Hirschfeld, Beyond Broadway," opens today and closes on March 31, 2001. The gallery, located adjacent to the Visitors' Center in the Jefferson Building, is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Al Hirschfeld and Broadway have been inseparable for 75 years, since he published his first theatrical caricature in 1926. Yet for Hirschfeld there has always been a world beyond Broadway, exciting his passions and focusing his vision. He studied art in New York and Paris, traveled extensively in Europe and Asia, and began his professional career in the movie industry at the precocious age of 18. His world of influences embraced the early cinema; the art of French and German illustrators and such illustrious Americans as Charles Dana Gibson, Miguel Covarrubias, and John Held Jr.; the social consciousness of Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists; the Harlem Renaissance; the fluid line and flat perspective of Japanese prints; and the contrast of dark shadows and bright sunlight found in Southeast Asia.

"Al Hirschfeld, Beyond Broadway" features 25 works selected from the artist's gift and established Library collections. They span his astonishing career and offer an intimate look back at the origins of his wondrous "unaccountable" line. The prints and drawings displayed suggest that his seemingly magical mastery of line evolved in locales beyond the Great White Way, in the markets of Morocco, the studios of Paris, the jazz bars of Manhattan, and the villages of Bali.

The exhibition and accompanying brochure have been prepared with support from the Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Fund for Caricature and Cartoon. The Swann Gallery showcases the collections of the Library of Congress in rotating exhibitions and promotes the ongoing Swann Foundation program in the study of cartoon, caricature and illustration, while also offering a provocative and informative selection of works by past masters. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of nearly 2,000 works of cartoon art representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. He developed the collection specifically to promote the preservation and connoisseurship of original cartoon and illustration drawings. Among the collection's highlights are sketches by such European masters as Guillaume Chevalier Gavarni and Richard Doyle, drawings by celebrated American illustrators including John Held Jr. and Ralph Barton, comic strips by such pioneering cartoonists as Richard F. Outcault, Winsor McCay, and George Herriman, and contemporary works by renowned artists, including Edward Sorel, Andre Francois, and Eugene Mihaesco. An illustrated brochure will be available to visitors.

More information on this exhibition as well as the Library of Congress's print and drawing collections is available through the Swann Foundation's Web site:, by e-mail:, or by calling Emily MacKinnon, Curatorial Project Assistant, at (202) 707-9115 or Harry Katz at (202) 707-8696.


PR 00-172
ISSN 0731-3527