One of the foremost graphic artists of our age, Edward Sorel has delighted magazine readers for decades with his social critiques, political satires, and whimsical picture essays. At heart, he is a storyteller and commentator, as incisive as any of his journalist colleagues. Beyond the intelligence and humor so readily apparent in his images, however, is a subtle, complex art of rare power and vitality.
Born on March 26, 1929, in the Bronx, Sorel cofounded the internationally renowned Push Pin Studios in the mid-1950s, but soon established his lifelong freelance career. Although his commercial designs and children's-book illustrations won awards, Sorel became best known as a political satirist. His potent spoofs of public figures appeared in left-wing periodicals, then in mainstream magazines. Critics compared him to Goya and Daumier. Never exclusively political, however, Sorel skewered pomposity wherever it appeared or simply mused on the exquisite oddness of the human comedy. Over the last three decades, his work has appeared in American Heritage, Forbes, Esquire, The Atlantic, New York, Gentleman's Quarterly, Harper's, The Nation, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Time, and, in recent years, on the cover of The New Yorker.
Sorel spices his drawings with a variety of comic techniques and eclectic references to art, history, and mythology. But his images gain much of their power from his draftsmanship. Complex, flawlessly composed, and grotesquely elegant, Sorel's drawings have lasting value. Like all great satiric art, they portray the human experience with wisdom and their own type of beauty.
"Edward Sorel: Unauthorized Portraits" was curated by Wendy Wick Reaves, Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.