The Friday Fillip

Cartooning is an art, and caricature is art with a cutting edge. No one was better at it than David Levine (1926-2009). His inked, crosshatched marvels graced the pages of the New York Review of Books for over forty years, during which Levine captured the essence-in-time of three-and-a-half thousand subjects. The New York Review has put all of these online, a brilliant gallery of the second half of the last century. Here’s Nixon, Updike, Albee, and Scalia. And here, too, are greats from history, such as Chaplain, Velásquez, Einstein . . .

But let me get out of the way and point you to three excellent doors into the the Levine Gallery, so that you can see for yourself what genius can do with a pen and ink.

  1. Gary Wills did a piece on the NYR Blog taking you through Levine’s life via his drawings. If you want to know more about the man, this is a good place to start.
  2. Or, if you want it from the horse’s mouth, listen to NYR editor Sasha Weiss interview Levine and watch the accompanying slide show of his drawings.
  3. Finally, for a romp in the gallery, go to the main page and choose a year, a category (here’s Legal Figures, for example), or a search term. It’s enough to give you second and third thoughts about celebrity, if ever you were tempted that way.

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