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Posts tagged "al Hirschfeld"

Jan 25, 2013

Al Hirschfeld’s signature: spot the NINA

We were talking about signatures yesterday, and my wife reminded me of Al Hirschfeld. Wikipedia:

Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced after her birth in 1945. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. As Margo Feiden described it, Hirschfeld engaged in the “harmless insanity,” as he called it, of hiding her name [Nina] at least once in each of his drawings. The number of NINAs concealed is shown by an Arabic numeral to the right of his signature. Generally, if no number is to be found, either NINA appears once or the drawing was executed before she was born. Hirschfeld originally intended the Nina gag to be a one-time gimmick but locating Nina’s name in the drawings became extremely popular. From time to time Hirschfeld lamented that the gimmick had overshadowed his art and tried to discontinue the practice, but such attempts always generated harsh criticism. Nina herself was reportedly somewhat ambivalent about all the attention. In the previously mentioned interview with The Comics Journal Hirschfeld confirmed the urban legend that the U.S. Army had used his cartoons to train bomber pilots with the soldiers trying to spot the NINAs much as they would spot their targets. Hirschfeld told the magazine he found the idea repulsive, saying that he felt his cartoons were being used to help kill people. In his 1966 anthology The World of Hirschfeld he included a drawing of Nina which he titled “Nina’s Revenge.” That drawing contained no Ninas. There were, however, two Als and two Dollys (“The names of her wayward parents”).

See if you can spot the NINAs above.

(Hint: look to the hair and the gentleman’s lapel.)

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