David Levine, R.I.P.

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Filed under: Satire

David Levine, iconic artist and satirist, most known for his political caricatures, passed away December 29, 2009.

This reproduction of his famous caricature of Kissinger “doing” the earth was recently published in Gawker. It is followed by his obit from The New York Times plus links to other articles of interest:


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David Levine, Biting Caricaturist, Dies at 83
by Bruce Weber
The New York Times
December 29, 2009

popup-200David Levine, whose macro-headed, somberly expressive, astringently probing and hardly ever flattering caricatures of intellectuals and athletes, politicians and potentates were the visual trademark of The New York Review of Books for nearly half a century, died Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 83 and lived in Brooklyn.

His death, at New York Presbyterian Hospital, was caused by prostate cancer and a subsequent combination of illnesses, his wife, Kathy Hayes, said.

Mr. Levine's drawings never seemed whimsical, like those of Al Hirschfeld. They didn't celebrate neurotic self-consciousness, like Jules Feiffer's. He wasn't attracted to the macabre, the way Edward Gorey was. His work didn't possess the arch social consciousness of Edward Sorel's. Nor was he interested, as Roz Chast is, in the humorous absurdity of quotidian modern life. But in both style and mood, Mr. Levine was as distinct an artist and commentator as any of his well-known contemporaries. His work was not only witty but serious, not only biting but deeply informed, and artful in a painterly sense as well as a literate one; he was, in fact, beyond his pen and ink drawings, an accomplished painter. Those qualities led many to suggest that he was the heir of the 19th-century masters of the illustration, Honoré Daumier and Thomas Nast.

Especially in his political work, his portraits betrayed the mind of an artist concerned, worriedly concerned, about the world in which he lived. Among his most famous images were those of President Lyndon B. Johnson pulling up his shirt to reveal that the scar from his gallbladder operation was in the precise shape of the boundaries of Vietnam, and of Henry Kissinger having sex on the couch with a female body whose head was in the shape of a globe, depicting, Mr. Levine explained later, what Mr. Kissinger had done to the world. He drew Richard M. Nixon, his favorite subject, 66 times, depicting him as the Godfather, as Captain Queeg, as a fetus.

Read the rest of this article here.


Related Links:

  • ‘David Levine’s caricatures were art’, The Guardian
  • Remembering David Levine: Brilliant Artist, Lifelong Brooklynite, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  • Levine in Winter, Vanity Fair