Hirschfelds Harlem: Manhattans Legendary Artist Illustrates This Legendary City Within a City

ISBN 10: 1557835179 / ISBN 13: 9781557835178
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Synopsis: (Applause Books). Decades before the PBS documentaries, before Bill Clinton, Al Hirschfeld went to Harlem. No artist ever captured Harlem's dangerous highs and bluesy lows like this Master of the Performing Curve. Hirschfeld began his artistic Harlem odyssey six decades ago, charting that legendary New York neighborhood's special rhythms and moods in splashy feverish hues. Hirschfeld's Harlem opens onto a special portfolio of these full-color works, a pictorial essay of the Swing Era. Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones, Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, among a dozen other Harlem artists and critics, supply accompanying commentary, reminiscences and analysis each voice focusing on one portrait. Then it's back to Hirschfeld in his signature black and white takes on forty Harlem artists and public figures: Gregory Hines, Duke Ellington, James Earl Jones, Ethel Waters and dozens more all have been caught in the creative act by one of our greatest artists. Each drawing is accompanied by a thumbnail narrative by Hirschfeld about the most famous inhabitants and transients of these fabled streets. Hirschfeld's Harlem opens a picture window into nearly a century of Black American artistry and life.

From the Author: "I have been so continuously enchanted with the Harlem I had grown up near and visited my whole life. . .Harlem people just keep on rising above whatever met them at eye level; regardless of the rugged terrain or the economic weather, Harlem residents had their own means of levitation. They performed an art form beyond the Arts, beyond the stage, beyond the Cotton Club. Very real people meeting reality head on and then stubbornly transcending it. Some commentators have made much of the fact that these aren’t Hirschfeld's typical performers. Well, they’re not on the stretch of Broadway I had covered before or since. But these Harlemites are performers all right. They are in rehearsal for the performance of their lives. It’s that grand profound ritual I hope to have captured here."

-Al Hirschfeld, January 2003, from his preface, Drawing on Harlem

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