Thursday, January 21, 2010

David Levine 1926-2009

You could spend today reading about David Levine, who passed away on the last Thursday of 2009 of prostate cancer.

Levine was one of the last -- maybe the last -- illustrators to be linked and branded with a particular publication.

He was the graphic artist of the New York Review of Books. His unique, painterly pen style defined the publication as Hirschfeld defined the NY Times Arts & Leisure section, and as Rea Irvin defined the initial New Yorker magazine look.

Levine's caricature technique was much admired. Ed Sorel, writing in Time Magazine, likened it to French cartoonist André Gill.

Tom Spurgeon has a wonderful write up on the artist's life here.

Mr. Levine was admired to the extent of other artists aping his style. Here is a small portion of an interview Gary Groth conducted:

GROTH: I think there’s a cartoonist working now who imitates you.

LEVINE: There are a number of them. Each one has something a little different. But basically, the only problem with that is generally, if somebody doesn’t use me but uses them because they’re less expensive, that kind of bothers me. And on one occasion, many years ago, there was a guy who was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, Robert Manning, and he hired somebody who did an entire issue of the magazine, full of caricatures, small drawings, but all of them total imitations. But he didn’t sign them. I have a feeling that was an editorial choice. Because I had done some work for them, I poked a little fun at them by sending the bill, as if I had done it. [Chuckle.] I never got a word back. It was a joke.

Other tributes to David Levine include Steven Heller, David Margolick, Steve Bell, Peter Kaplan and Steve Brodner.

Thanks to Journalista! and the Comics Reporter for the links.

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