Books: “Profusely Illustrated” by Ed Sorel
In the depth of the Depression, little Eddie Schwartz from the Bronx, the son of Jewish immigrants from Romania, won an art competition at school. His mother, realizing he had talent, enrolled him in art classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn (quite a schlep from the Bronx) and at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Manhattan (no less of a schlep). The journey continued through the High School of Music and Art and Cooper Union, the customary steps for many talented New York kids.
But little Eddie Schwartz was something special. And in a matter of years, his career as an artist/illustrator/political satirist/cartoonist took off and he changed his name to Ed Sorel, named for the hero of a French novel who fought for justice and romanced all the beautiful women in sight.
Don’t think you’ve ever seen Sorel’s work? If you’ve ever picked up a copy of the NYT Book Review, Esquire or The New Yorker, of course you have. In “Profusely Illustrated,” his charming stroll down memory lane, Sorel talks about all the gigs he had—including one, where four filing cabinets turned on their side served as his drawing table. He worked at CBS under William Golden (who didn’t like him very much), co-founded Push Pin Studios with Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, and more recently created murals for Graydon Carter’s New York City restaurants—the Waverly Inn and the Monkey Bar.
Sorel’s knowledge of politics is voluminous, and if you haven’t already gleaned that from his cartoons, this lovely—and yes, profusely illustrated—memoir will bring you up to speed. Politically, he is lefty-er than left—having something critical to say about all presidents after FDR (Republicans mostly but also JFK, Clinton, and Obama).
Ed Sorel will be 93 in 2022. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Meanwhile, hope you enjoy this wonderful book as much as I did. Happy New Year.