By Terry Trucco
Al Hirschfeld was never a member of the Vicious Circle, the storied gathering of writers, actors and wags who traded lunchtime barbs around a round table at the Algonquin Hotel. But it’s easy to imagine he might have been.
He knew the group’s acid-tongued members personally, including critic Alexander Woolcott, playwright Gerald S. Kaufman, New Yorker editor Harold Ross and serial quipper Dorothy Parker. And he captured them along with Round Table orbiters like Harpo Marx and Tallulah Bankhead in pen-and-ink caricatures every bit as clever as the zingers lobbed across the table.
Just in time for holiday cocktails, the Round Table gang is back, gazing down from the walls of the Algonquin’s iconic lobby, primed it seems to verbally pounce on all they see. On view through January 6, The Return of the Vicious Circle installs 25 of Hirschfeld’s finest portraits — and that’s saying something — above the rich wood wainscoting. You look up at three-foot-tall renderings of Parker, James Thurber, Irving Berlin et al looming ten feet above the sofas and lighted from below “like footlights,” says David Leopold, creative director of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, who was on hand at the opening. (more…)