David Levine, who died Tuesday of complications from prostate cancer, was the noted caricaturist for the New York Review of Books, for which he made more than 3,800 drawings. He also was the stepfather of our contributor Nancy Rommelmann, who was with him in New York when he died. His work is on display in a slide show at the New York Times, which also carries a nice obit from Bruce Weber:
Mr. Levine’s drawings never seemed whimsical, like those of Al Hirschfeld. They didn’t celebrate neurotic self-consciousness, like Jules Feiffer’s....Mr. Levine was as distinct an artist and commentator as any of his well-known contemporaries. His work was not only witty but serious, not only biting but deeply informed, and artful in a painterly sense as well as a literate one; he was, in fact, beyond his pen and ink drawings, an accomplished painter. Those qualities led many to suggest that he was the heir of the 19th-century masters of the illustration, Honoré Daumier and Thomas Nast.
Especially in his political work, his portraits betrayed the mind of an artist concerned, worriedly concerned, about the world in which he lived. Among his most famous images were those of President Lyndon B. Johnson pulling up his shirt to reveal that the scar from his gallbladder operation was in the precise shape of the boundaries of Vietnam, and of Henry Kissinger having sex on the couch with a female body whose head was in the shape of a globe, depicting, Mr. Levine explained later, what Mr. Kissinger had done to the world. He drew Richard M. Nixon, his favorite subject, 66 times, depicting him as the Godfather, as Captain Queeg, as a fetus.