Saturday, August 6, 2016

Abe Birnbaum: On Your Mark...

Fifty-six years ago Abe Birnbaum illustrated A. J. Liebling's "Letter from the Olympics" for the New Yorker. The drawing is noteworthy for it's simplicity; you might think it is the product of a few minutes' effort. The four runners seem to be caught in the act of springing forward from their crouched positions at the starting line. A single curving line delineates the arm, shoulder, and head of each. Their trunks take on a rubbery, almost abstract quality as the reader's eye scans from left to right. Together the figures have a rhythmic, dance-like energy and seem to recall the work of Henri Matisse.

Abe Birnbaum, Illustration to "Letter from the Olympics" by A. J. Liebling
The New Yorker, September 10, 1960, page 85

Note:  The New Yorker's illustrations and spot drawings don't get the attention they deserve. For that matter, neither does Abe Birnbaum's work. I would love to hear from collectors with original artwork of this type who would be willing to share what they have and what they know on this blog. Write to me at my email address with AB—for Abe Birnbaum—in the subject line.

Attempted Bloggery's quick links:
Attempted Bloggery's olympian index


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