spacer Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

Some of Sorel's favorite work accompanies his own illustrated essays, written with a quirky, sometimes whimsical humor. "Finding the right cause to back has never been easy," Sorel wrote with delicate irony in his Forbes magazine article "High Society Illustrated." He chose as one example Leonard Bernstein's notorious 1970 fund-raising party for the Black Panthers. The infamous party, organized by his wife Felicia, was a public relations debacle. Several prominent journalists had numbered among the Bernsteins' guests, and the New York Times social editor's report the next day set off a firestorm of criticism; one editorial called the affair "elegant slumming that degrades patrons and patronized alike." Six months later, Tom Wolfe wrote a famous article on the party, mocking such "delicious little agonies" of the "radical chic" as deciding what to wear for such events, what food to serve, and what color your servants should be. In a richly colored drawing filled with movement and entertaining detail, Sorel depicted the moment when Bernstein reacted with flamboyant fury to a Panther spokesman's mispronunciation of his name.

Ink and watercolor, 1990
Original illustration for Forbes, October 22, 1990
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.
© Edward Sorel

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