Extent: 3,326 drawings
William Auerbach-Levy (1889-1964) was born in Brest-Litovsk, Russia. His family added the surname Levy when they moved to the United States around 1894. Auerbach-Levy grew up in the Lower East Side where his drawing talent was recognized at an early age. At 11 years-old he was admitted to study at the National Academy of Design. He briefly attended the Julian Academy in Paris after graduating from City College, but returned to New York where he taught at the National Academy and the Educational Alliance Art School. Auerbach-Levy worked as a painter and etcher, but he is best known as a caricaturist. In a career spanning four decades, Auerbach-Levy drew the popular artists, performers, thinkers, and athletes of his day. His work appeared in a variety of publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Colliers, Brooklyn Eagle, and the New York Post. In 1947, he published two books on caricature: The Art of Caricature and Is That Me? A book about caricature, in collaboration with his wife Florence Von Wien. Auerbach-Levy died of a heart attack on June 29, 1964 in Ossining, New York.
Scope and Content
Objects in the collection are primarily working drawings prepared for publication. Many feature white-out corrections and notes in the margins or on the back of the drawing. A few of the works are in color, but most are black line drawings with a blue coloring used to indicate areas of shading to the printers. Subjects are predominantly scenes and stars from Broadway productions from the mid1920s up until his death in 1964 but also include sports personalities, politicians, writers, musicians, and military figures. The collection also contains images of Charlie Chaplin, the Marx brothers, Babe Ruth, Norman Rockefeller and others outside the world of Broadway who captured popular interest. Objects range in size from approximately 28” x 22” to 11” x 8”.