The Al Hirschfeld Foundation presents its latest online exhibition, “Hirschfeld’s New Season,” now live at through December 6. With a new season of the arts finally happening and audiences back in theaters, concert halls and museums, the exhibition explores how Al Hirschfeld viewed a new season. What did he draw, and what does it tell us about that season? For more than sixty years, Hirschfeld showed us the people and the productions we should look for as the season unfolded. “Hirschfeld’s New Season” features Hirschfeld’s reflections of legendary artists including Julie Andrews, Leonard Bernstein, Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Whoopi Goldberg, Katherine Hepburn, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Maggie Smith and more.   “Starting in 1977, the New York Times gave Al Hirschfeld the opportunity to bring all his interests together in busy composites of the personalities that held the most promise in the new season,” says David Leopold, Creative Director of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation and curator of the new online exhibition. “Ten times over twelve years, Hirschfeld produced the faces of the new season as the cover of special sections for the paper that covered, theater, film, dance, television, music and the visual arts. These drawings alone told readers that a new season was about to start, and like his theater drawings, it made viewers as knowledgeable about what was going on as any expert.”   Go behind the lines of Hirschfeld’s art with “The Hirschfeld Century Podcast,” nominated as “Best NYC podcast” by the 2020 Apple Awards. A special episode focusing “Hirschfeld’s New Season” will be available starting November 3 from, iTunes and other popular podcast sites.

The mission of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation is to promote interest in the theater and visual arts by supporting non-profit museums, libraries, theaters and similar cultural institutions. The Foundation fulfills its mission through grants and exhibitions of Hirschfeld’s art. The Foundation maintains an extensive collection of Hirschfeld artworks and lends and/or donates pieces to institutions all over the world. Another primary mission is arts education, which the Foundation does primarily with the Hirschfeld Arts Curriculum. Created in conjunction with the New York City Board of Education, The Hirschfeld Arts Curriculum is an innovative visual/performing arts education program based on Hirschfeld’s art to engage students K through 12 in a variety of arts activities. Our programs encourage writing, reading, researching, observing, movement and performance to learn about the arts, its history, and the opportunities for education and employment in the arts field. The web based Al Hirschfeld curriculum is easy to use, and is intended to be a free resource for teachers and students.

Al Hirschfeld’s drawings stand as one of the most innovative efforts in establishing the visual language of modern art through caricature in the 20th century. A self-described “characterist,” his signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades (including a 75-year relationship with The New York Times) as well as numerous book and record covers and 15 postage stamps. Hirschfeld said his contribution was to take the character, created by the playwright and portrayed by the actor, and reinvent it for the reader. Playwright Terrence McNally wrote: “No one ‘writes’ more accurately of the performing arts than Al Hirschfeld. He accomplishes on a blank page with his pen and ink in a few strokes what many of us need a lifetime of words to say.”
In 1945, Hirschfeld celebrated the birth of his daughter Nina by placing her name in the background of a drawing. What the artist described as an innocent prank soon became a personal trademark and national obsession, as he began hiding numerous NINA’s throughout his drawings for years to come.
He is represented in many public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Portrait Gallery, and Harvard’s Theater Collection. Hirschfeld authored several books including Manhattan Oases and Show Business is No Business in addition to 10 collections of his work. He was declared a Living Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 1996, and a Living Legend by The Library of Congress in 2000. Just before his death in January 2003, he learned he was to be awarded the Medal of Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts and inducted into the Academy of Arts and Letters. The winner of two Tony Awards, he was given the ultimate Broadway accolade on what would have been his 100th birthday in June 2003. The Martin Beck Theater was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theater.