George M. Cohan

George M. Cohan
Al Frueh was working as a cartoonist for the New York World at the time Alfred Stieglitz discovered his drawings of theatrical headliners. Admiring his "fresh and independent point of view," Stieglitz opened an exhibition of Frueh's drawings at his 291 gallery in November 1912, reporting that the show was both a popular and an artistic success. Critics admired Frueh's ability to summarize a personality with a minimum of details. In his image of George M. Cohan, for instance, Frueh dispensed with facial features altogether. "Nothing remains but the angle of the hat, the swing of the cane, the hand in the pocket and the Cohan walk," enthused one. "But the portrait is unmistakable!" Frueh was pleased with the publicity. "I've got an awful swelled head," he joked, "haven't hair enough to go around. That's the reason it looks so thin."

George M. Cohan 18781942
Al Frueh (18801968)
Ink with white gouache on board, circa 1911
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of the children of Al Frueh:
Barbara Frueh Bornemann, Robert Frueh, and Alfred Frueh Jr.

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