Thursday, February 4, 2010

America’s greatest caricature artist, David Levine



Last week I learned of the sad news of the death of America’s greatest caricature artist, David Levine.

I can’t remember when I first met him. Perhaps 25 years ago when I was making a living as a political cartoonist and caricaturist. I was one of many young artists influenced by his great style and humor - so I probably met him at some political or artist gathering, and he was always very friendly to me.

Apparently at one time he had ambitions to be an animator - in fact he once did an impromptu drawing of Goofy for me - (it wasn’t bad!) - So we bonded over animation.

I remember back in the early ‘90s going to a Guernsey auction of all of Preston Blair’s animation. (He is another of my personal gods), and I bumped into David and the brilliant Peter DeSeve - and we decided to pool our money and purchase a whole sequence of the alligator dancing from Fantasia (“The Dance of the Hours”). I believe it was about 30 drawings. Then we decided to meet at his place in Brooklyn Heights and divvy up the drawings so we all had a continuous set. It was great fun because he got very personal about his art and creativity - he even opened up his caricature drawer and offered me a pick of any of the drawings. It was a tough choice, but I took the Jimmy Stewart.

I’ve just returned from a memorial of the great artist - and there I got to chat with Steve Brodner, Victor Juhascz, Arnold Roth and Jules Feiffer, and so many people referred to him as the greatest caricature artist of his generation, which I strongly disagree with. To me he’s the greatest American caricaturist ever - no one will ever surpass him. He’s one reason I gave up caricaturing and moved into animation.

with Victor Juhascz and Steve Brodner


3 comments:

  1. He was a lovely man and a great artist. I've written on our studio blog about my encounters with him.

    He was definitely 1A to Hirschfeld's 1B. Levine could jab a little sharper if he wanted to, and that's important in caricature.

    It's hard to compare with Daumier or Nast, but if anyone of our time could, it was David Levine.

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  2. There's a ton of his work up at nybooks.com/gallery. Fantastic stuff!

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  3. I completely agree with you Bill, David Levine is the greatest caricature artist that my eyes have seen. He is by far the best of the best I have no doubts about it, thanks for sharing this with us!

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