Tuesday, October 23, 2018


There's plenty to admire about John Kascht's caricature of Keith Richards.

I like the way Kascht seized control of the shape of the head; that receding chin, those marvelous lips.  I like how he captured the dissolute look of an aging rock star-- the deep wrinkles, the scraggly hair, the sallow complexion.  These are all examples of the talent that makes Kascht one of the country's leading caricaturists. 

But then he takes it a step farther and omits one eye-- an inspired way to visualize human disintegration.  It's as if a few of Richards' jigsaw puzzle pieces fell out of the box and got lost over the years.

You don't make unexpected choices like that with talent alone.  You need the muse whispering in your ear.

The ancient Norse myth of Odin tells how Odin wandered the world in search of wisdom. When he finally located the well of wisdom, its owner demanded a terrible price for a drink: Odin had to pluck out one of his own eyes in exchange.  Sometimes we have to go beyond what we see on the surface in order to understand the true nature of things.

Unfortunately, Kascht's client never read that myth.  When they received his caricature they asked him to "finish it" by painting in that second eye.

After the picture was published, he painted the eye out again.  I only know about the original because I was fortunate enough to see the traveling exhibition of Kascht's paintings, currently making its way around the country.

Michael Eisner, printed version (above) and photo from the original (below).

Charles Mingus, printed version (above) and detail from original (below).

Kascht has several paintings in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.  You've seen his work in all of the top publications, including the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and Esquire.

The Smithsonian institution filmed a documentary about Kascht which explains his working methods. It's well worth seeing.

Going forward, the travel schedule for Kascht's show is: 

April 21-August 26, 2019

San Francisco
September 14, 2019-January 5, 2020
Opening Reception
1-5 PM Sunday, September 22, 2019
6 PM: Pete Docter in conversation with John Kascht

February 15-May 3, 2020

I highly recommend it.


MORAN said...

Kascht got picked to replace Hirschfeld.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I like Kascht's work. I used to see him in the NYT but I haven't seen much of his work recently. Where is he appearing now?


Quimby the Mouse said...

Will his show be exhibited in Atlanta? There's nothing about his show on his web site.

Mort said...

Would love your opinion on Sebastián Dufour´s caricatures then.

Mort said...

Non-edited edit:
I was thinking those more like his comic Tango Cruzado http://tangocruzado.blogspot.com/ or his recent illustration work.
I´m a mess before breakfast and it shows.

kev ferrara said...

Top notch work. That video was astounding and a wonderful document of Kascht's process. Creating even one decent Conan O'Brien caricature is hard enough. But to do it over and over again on command, that's impressive.

David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Yes, the NYT did a talent search to fill the shoes of the august Mr. Hirschfeld, and decided that Kascht was best suited for the high profile job.

JSL-- Judging from the major number of works in his new museum show, Kascht has stayed busy. Plus, he has a new book of his work out, which I recommend.

Quimby the Mouse-- the next show I'm aware of is at the Billy Ireland Museum in Columbus, Ohio but I know he has spoken with several venues. If you have a museum in Atlanta that you think would be appropriate, why not suggest it to them?

David Apatoff said...

Mort-- I confess I had only passing familiarity with Sebastián Dufour´s caricatures. Thanks for the reference. I see that in the past he has done a number of caricatures in a traditional, Tom Richmond kind of style but then his work on Tango Cruzado looks completely different-- very stylized and distinctive. Anything that breaks the hackneyed mold for graphic novels, I support. You obviously know more about him than I do. Tell us about him, especially about the evolution of his later style.

Kev Ferrara-- I'm glad you liked that documentary too. I was really struck by how eloquent Kascht was in describing how he goes about his work. He's obviously a very thoughtful fellow and I found his discussion thought the outcome was quite poetic.

Gianmaria Caschetto said...

I'm sorry to post these here, because they don't tie in with the post at hand, but I think you might like to share these through you blog: they are a couple of youtube videos about Norman Rockwell, both pretty neat.