David Levine (left), who passed away at 83 on December 29, 2009, was the true heir of 19th century illustrators Honore Daumier and Thomas Nast. His drawings of the rich, powerful and famous, with their cross-hatched lines and prominent noses on large heads, while rarely flattering, were never vicious and always insightful. His subjects encompassed politicians, intellectuals, artists and athletes, yet when working in watercolors, he portrayed garment workers or Coney Island bathers from his native Brooklyn.
Levine contributed over 38,000 illustrations to The New York Review of Books. Among his most famous is a takeoff on President Lyndon B. Johnson's revealing his scar from a gall bladder operation, drawn in the shape of the nation's wound at that time, Vietnam:
Levine received tributes from fellow illustrators and cartoonists Art Spiegelman and his friend Jules Feiffer, who stated, "In the second half of the 20th century, he was the most important political cartoonist. ...He revived the art.” Steve Brodner, a powerful political cartoonist in his own right, wrote a moving tribute to Levine on his blog.
To view over 2,500 Levine illustrations from 1963 to the present in The New York Review of Books David Levine Gallery, click here. The New York Times has also produced a slide show, "The Work of David Levine." In the following video, this greatest of caricaturists talks about the inspirations behind his illustrations: