David Levine Dies, Making It Extremely Unlikely That He Will Ever Draw Your Likeness for the New York Review of Books

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12/29/2009 2:28 PM |


David Levine, the illustrator, died this morning; he was 83.

His caricatures of notable figures, most especially artists, were the defining visual element of the New York Review of Books ever since its inception in 1963. Even if you’re not a reader of the publication, or if you don’t know his name, you’ve probably seen his widely republished illustrations, and can recognize his bigheaded, minimal, acerbically detailed style.

You can browse his entire archive at the NYRB site; the Woody Allen drawing pictured is emblematic of his style (to the extent that he stuck with one consistent look), and perhaps my favorite of his many drawings (his way with frizzy flyaway hair made him a natural for drawing Jewish intellectuals; he loved to draw Phil Roth, too).

If David Levine never got around to drawing you, now he never will. Inasmuch as you’re nobody, in the world of literature, until David Levine caricatures you, it seems as though you will never become a famous author. The dream is dead.