"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

William Auerbach-Levy

This 1925 self-caricature by William Auerbach-Levy hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
When is a self-portrait not exactly a likeness?
William Auerbach-Levy gained fame from the 1920s through the 1940s as a caricaturist of literary and theatrical figures, artists, and movie stars. His drawings could be found for years in the New York World and other major publications. Auerbach-Levy also caricatured himself, showing his thinning hair, round face, and weak chin, In this drawing, he reveals an alter ego — one who is broad shouldered, with a full head of thick hair — the artist as he “should look”. This figure recurs in Auerbach-Levy's work, in the same pose and displaying the same features.
Here, he is shown creating a modernist interpretation of a house. In other sketches, the same artist character is seen caricaturing a nude model, or making a painfully thin model look like a modernist sculpture by Gaston Lachaise, or transforming a large-boned fleshy model into a svelte ideal. -- NPG
W. A. L.

A rather similar picture shows up on the cover of William Auerbach-Levy's 1947 book Is That Me? (for sale on Ebay.)

The first authoritative book by an American on the Art of Caricature

with all good wishes
William Auerbach- Levy.

The NPG also has this 1945 self-portrait of WAL painting a self-portrait. 

The resulting self-portrait seems to be this one from 1946 belonging to the Museum of the City of New York:

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