Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sure, I'm obsessed, but can you blame me?

This is one of those things that came out of nowhere. No, not quite: I googled "Harold Lloyd caricatures", because I had yet to see one I liked. Most of them were ugly, bizarre and didn't look anything like him.

Oh how I wish I knew anything about this, as it appeared in a mishmosh of internet images. It's signed by "Harold", who usually uses his full signature, so it's something for a close friend. I can't make out the name. Kent, Kert, Hart? Impossible to say.

And the artist's signature: Vitch? Equally incipherable/untraceable. But the caricature itself IS Harold Lloyd in a very few deft strokes, with the right side of his face not even drawn in. At first I thought this was a mistake, or the artist losing interest before he was quite done. But like the best caricatures, the likeness is implied, not spelled out. With a very few lines, you "know". It's poignant that the right side of his face is a mere shadow: this was the side of his body that was most damaged by the bomb that went off in his hand in 1919, just as his career was in liftoff.

I don't know how an artist gets such a compelling likeness, so much with so little: 1/4 of a nose, a tiny fraction of a lip, a jaw-line, brows. He even got the expressive arched left eyebrow that drove women crazy. The thick black hair is implied with one bold stroke. It's all perfect, as are the eyes that softened and grew kinder with the years. This could be Harold at practically any age.

The longer I look at this, the stranger it gets! Even the hat is only half-drawn. But anyone would know who it was. This out-Hirschfelds Hirschfeld by a mile.

1 comment:

  1. You may be interested in the Vitch documentary