Al Smith

Al Smith
Vanity Fair editors, promoting color caricature in the 1930s, recruited Italian artist Paolo Garretto to create covers and frontispieces featuring prominent personalities. In the October 1934 issue, his drawing of Al Smith, four-term governor of New York, progressive reformer, and onetime presidential contender, evoked the "Happy Warrior" of the campaign trail. Rather than critique his accomplishments, Garretto captured his flamboyant character with a Jimmy Durante-sized nose, yellow sweat stain, patriotic heart, and theatrical gesture. The skyscrapers of the city rock sideways in joyous response. Garretto's depiction had no relation to Smith's political fortunes within the Democratic Party, which were declining at the time into a rancorous feud with Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, it celebrates New York's own son and Smith's distinctive character.

Al Smith 1873-1944
Paolo Garretto (1903-1989)
Collage with airbrushed gouache and pencil on board
for Vanity Fair, October 1934
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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