Monday, June 5, 2017

AL HIRSCHFELD Legendary Caricaturist at Algonquin Hotel Review By Polly Guerin

Al Hirschfeld's Tony Award Winning Black-and-White Images 
There is never a dull moment on historic West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. It is known to the cognoscenti as Club Row, and at the end of the street the legendary Algonquin Hotel, famed as the site of The Round Table, was the gathering place of the elite stars of stage, screen and theater. 
    Now fans and aficionados of the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who was well known for his black-and-white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars, can enjoy a unique exhibit of his work in the celebrated lounge of The Algonquin Hotel. Hirschfeld, whose artwork graced the pages of the New York Herald Tribune and later The New York Times and many other publications and magazines was actually a frequent visitor at the The Algonquin Round Table. He knew and worked with many of its members and you will remember best that he sketched the famous portrait of Dorothy Parker and her cohorts in 1962. The connection of Hirschfeld and the cult of celebrity runs deep in the annals of his oeuvre. His style was unique and almost always of pure line in black ink, into which he dipped not a pen but a Crow's quill. Hirshfeld's outpouring of whimsical and comedic images chronicled nearly all of the major entertainment figures of the 20th century as well as politicians, TV stars, and such musical legends as Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and many others.
The Algonquin Round Table
PRIOR TO THE TONY'S:  In collaboration with the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, THE ALGONQUIN HOTEL CELEBRATES THE TONY'S AS SEEN BY HIRSCHFELD" in an exhibit which opened recently, just prior to the Tony Awards taking place June llth. There is plenty of time to visit Hirschfeld's black-and-white portraits of Tony Award winning Broadway musicals and plays that grace the Hotel's legendary lobby lounge and and whilst there sip a libation or two.  The exhibit is on view through August 8, 2017.   Free for the viewing, just walk into the lobby of the hotel for a heads up on this unique exhibition. New Yorkers and tourists alike are welcome to visit The Algonquin Hotel Lobby Lounge, marvel at Hirschfeld's works and guess the name of the show in each drawing, and, of course there is the subject of "Nina" the name of his daughter that Hirschfeld managed to conceal in each piece.  So have fun trying to find it. Maybe take an opera glass with you as the works are ceiling high.   
Hirschfeld's THE PRODUCERS
The panorama of  larger-than-life reproductions  features a total of 23 drawings, reproduced three feet tall. You must look up, look up my dear, the stunning black-and-white reproductions are hanging atop the iconic Lobby Lounge's oak paneling. Although the focus of this exhibition is on Hirschfeld's black-and-white, it is important to know that a whole body of his work was also in color, particularly in magazines and the subject of magazine covers. 

THE ALGONQUIN: Although The Algonquin Hotel, which opened November 22, 1902, is the oldest and longest operating hotel located in the heart of New York City's Club Row, 59 West 44th Street,  it is as modern as one would expect. www.algonquin.hotel.com 
Many celebrities and famous clientele have been guests, but the one character I always look for is the celebrated hotel house cat, Matilda, a celebrity herself who is usually the official lobby greeter. The tradition of having a house cat started in the 1920s. Over the years there have also been some male counterparts called, Hamlet.   Recently I asked for Matilda III and found her curled up sleeping in her favorite spot, in a street window, where even the passing crowd on the way to the theater can see her. A placard tells her story.
     Ta Ta Darlings!! It's the perfect place to rendezvous with a special friend(s) and relax with a "Dorothy Parker" or "Matilda" cocktail. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com and click on the links in the left hand column to visionary men, womendeterminedtosucceed, poetry from the heart and others.

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