Vintage original 17 x 20” (42 x 51 cm.) artwork illustration, pen and ink and gouache on art board, JUST ABOUT FINE.

Caricature art by Sam Norkin (1917-2011) of James Earl Jones as Othello in the New York Shakespeare Festival production, which was about to open off Broadway, on July 12, 1964. In this design, Jones is flanked by Michael Higgins (Iago), Julienne Marie (Desdemona), who subsequently was married to Jones for a few years, and Sada Thompson (Emilia).

Wikipedia describes Norkin as “a Brooklyn, New York-born cartoonist who specialized in theater caricatures for more than seven decades. His drawings of theater, opera, ballet and film celebrities appeared in Variety, Backstage, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and many other publications.

“Norkin learned composition and anatomy from the muralist Mordi Gassner. He received a scholarship to the Metropolitan Art School after his high school graduation, and he later attended Cooper Union, the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the School of Fine and Industrial Art. During the 1940s, newspaper editors wanted to devote more space to new theatrical productions, but photo opportunities usually did not happen until a show opened. Norkin took advantage of the situation and gained access to rehearsals, performers, costume sketches, fittings and scenic designs, providing editors with illustrations prior to an opening.

“From 1940 to 1956, his theatrical illustrations were a regular feature in the New York Herald Tribune. Then for the next 26 years, he covered the performing arts for the Daily News. Since 1940, Norkin has had more than 4000 drawings published.”

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