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All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't)

All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't): Inside The New York Times Op-Ed Page

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    All the Art That's Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn't)
    Book Description:

    All the Art That's Fit to Print reveals the true story of the world's first Op-Ed page, a public platform that-in 1970-prefigured the Internet blogosphere. Not only did the New York Times's nonstaff bylines shatter tradition, but the pictures were revolutionary. Unlike anything ever seen in a newspaper, Op-Ed art became a globally influential idiom that reached beyond narrative for metaphor and changed illustration's very purpose and potential.

    Jerelle Kraus, whose thirteen-year tenure as Op-Ed art director far exceeds that of any other art director or editor, unveils a riveting account of working at the Times. Her insider anecdotes include the reasons why artist Saul Steinberg hated the Times, why editor Howell Raines stopped the presses to kill a feature by Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau, and why reporter Syd Schanburg-whose story was told in the movie The Killing Fields-stated that he would travel anywhere to see Kissinger hanged, as well as Kraus's tale of surviving two and a half hours alone with the dethroned peerless outlaw, Richard Nixon.

    All the Art features a satiric portrayal of John McCain, a classic cartoon of Barack Obama by Jules Feiffer, and a drawing of Hillary Clinton and Obama by Barry Blitt. But when Frank Rich wrote a column discussing Hillary Clinton exclusively, the Times refused to allow Blitt to portray her. Nearly any notion is palatable in prose, yet editors perceive pictures as a far greater threat. Confucius underestimated the number of words an image is worth; the thousand-fold power of a picture is also its curse.

    Op-Ed's subject is the world, and its illustrations are created by the world's finest graphic artists. The 142 artists whose work appears in this book hail from thirty nations and five continents, and their 324 pictures-gleaned from a total of 30,000-reflect artists' common drive to communicate their creative visions and to stir our vibrant cultural-political pot.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53323-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Art & Art History, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xv)
    Ralph Steadman

    The world is lousy with wisdom. It was ever thus. Most of us complain, and the optimists make a line of ink.

    Jerelle Kraus must have interacted with just about every major artist, writer, and philosopher for more than thirty years. At a time when so many came and went, and so quickly, in the quicklime of progress, she always was there, clucking away, as Mother Hens do, keeping everyone in line and safe from foxes.

    She has the eye of a hawk and the heart of a revolutionary who cares deeply about what happens tomorrow. I have always known...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. 1-2)

    In 1970, the New York Times launched the world’s first Op-Ed page, a groundbreaking phenomenon that transformed journalism and—by providing a platform for anyone with an opinion—pre-figured, by decades, the Internet’s blogosphere. Not only did the new page’s nonstaff bylines shatter tradition, but its pictures were revolutionary. Unlike anything ever seen in a newspaper, Op-Ed art became a fertile, globally influential idiom that reached beyond narrative for metaphor and changed the very purpose and potential of illustration.

    Once I began this book, I approached a literary agent. “It’s about Times Op-Ed,” I told him. “Great,” he said. “I’ve...

    (pp. 3-12)

    I’d scarcely embarked on the task of Op-Ed art direction when I set off an unseemly spectacle. The year was 1979, and Sunday’s lead piece was to be an essay accusing Henry Kissinger of catastrophic war crimes. Written by influential foreign policy author William Pfaff, its authoritative tone called for bold art. Although new to New York and the Times, I was sufficiently conversant with the superb oeuvre of shrewd New York Review of Books caricaturist David Levine to think he’d be ideal to illustrate Pfaff’s stinging prose. Eager to ensure that he’d take the job, I gave the artist...

    (pp. 13-70)

    In an inspired move, Punch Sulzberger appointed Harrison Salisbury Op-Ed editor. The dapper, enterprising Salisbury was a handsome figure of patrician bearing, with a shock of white hair. He’d been the first to report that American warplanes were bombing Vietnamese civilian targets. A long-tenured Timesman and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Salisbury had been bureau chief in Moscow, top national correspondent, national editor, and deputy to the managing editor. Now his talent and vision secured him the Op-Ed plum. Another factor was at play, too: Rosenthal had inherited Salisbury as his deputy, yet the two men didn’t get along. “The fact...

    (pp. 71-164)

    “A newspaper,” cautioned charlotte curtis, “is a copy-eating fiend.” Upon reaching that last f-word, she coolly crumpled the page she’d been gripping in her tiny fist. “When it’s gulped down everything we feed it, it’s hungry again.” The year was 1979, and Curtis was daintily chain-smoking while describing the rigors of art directing two pages 365 days a year for the Times’s opinionated “church”—as distinct from its newsroom “state.” Seated just so, her legs crossed beneath the petticoats of a smart designer frock, she inhabited a diminutive figure who was enlarged by the huskiness of her voice and the...

    (pp. 165-220)

    Artist Mirko Ilić was describing the former Yugoslavia, whence he moved to New York in 1986. Forty years earlier, Marshal Tito had declared the diverse Balkan states to be the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, whose semblance of harmony Tito maintained by sending dissidents to work camps. Yugoslavia’s artists, however, like their Polish contemporaries, knew what to expect of the regime.

    “In Yugoslavia we didn’t have all these levels of approval,” says Ilić. “Everybody was afraid of system. In the U.S. everybody is afraid of everything. Is this politically correct? Am I going to get raise? Will I lose my...

    (pp. 221-251)

    The first decade of the new millennium opened with a whimper as the dreaded Y2K bug failed to stop all computers at midnight. The quiescence of that beginning was broken the following year, however, by the roar of jet engines. Hijacked U.S. airliners plunged into the Pentagon, a Pennsylvania field, and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. A maimed nation and all humankind recognized that global terrorism was the new world order.

    In this uncertain interval, the Times was experiencing the metastasis of its digital network. The paper had at first regarded its computer system as a way...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 253-255)
  13. Index
    (pp. 257-260)