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


  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.

  2. There's a ton of his work up at Fantastic stuff!

  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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