90 Years Of Hollywood Stars, Caricatured By Al Hirschfeld

A new exhibit of the legendary illustrator’s drawings reveals how he captured the essences of Hollywood stars for nearly a century.


The legendary illustrator Al Hirschfeld, known as the “Line King,” lived for a century–from 1903 to 2003–and spent the majority of that century drawing pen-and-ink caricatures of Broadway and Hollywood stars. His drawings of the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Sidney Poitier, Ringo Starr, and Julia Roberts were ubiquitous in the New York Times, Broadway, film studios, and TV Guide covers.


The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld, opening in May at the New York Historical Society, presents 100 of the Line King’s greatest drawings, from his early work for Hollywood studios to his last drawings for the New York Times before his death.

2000 Academy Award Nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress [Laura Linney in You Can Count on Me, Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, Allen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream, Ed Harris in Pollock, Geoffrey Rush in Quills, Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, Joan Allen in The Contender, Javier Bardem in Before Night Falls, Juliette Binoche in Chocolat, 2001
Ink on board
Collection of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation© The Al Hirschfeld Foundation

The collected drawings reveal how Hirschfeld captured a century of celebrities–perhaps more thoroughly and originally than any other individual artist–in a way that exposed their characters far better than airbrushed photographs. In an age of rampant celebrity worship, these caricatures took glitzy performers down a notch, exaggerating their flawed humanity instead of playing into the illusion of their perfection. See more in our slide show above.

The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld is on view from May to October 2015 at the New York Historical Society,

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.