I don’t quite agree with the exhibition title that calls ‘looking for Ninas’ “a “national insanity.” Donald Trump has a lock on that. But apparently that was how the late great caricaturist/arts journalist Al Hirschfeld, whose charming shtick of inserting his daughter’s name into his cartoons in the Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure section, wryly referred to it.
It was, for me, nutty, sure, but sane. It belonged to a more genteel time in my life in which Sunday mornings with newspaper & coffee would languidly stretch into an afternoon interrupted only by going to a four p.m. movie.
“A National Insanity: 75 years of Looking For NINA” is an online exhibition that surveys Hirschfeld’s drawings in which he embedded the name of his daughter, NINA, in near chicken-scratch, in “folds of sleeves, tousled hairdos, eyebrows, wrinkles, backgrounds, shoelaces.” The Line King would then insert a clue, a number next to his signature, indicating how many NINAs were burnished into the caricature. Counting NINAs was such a fun first stop of reading the paper!
A National Insanity: 75 Years of Looking For NINA | Al Hirshfeld Foundation | free on line now