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David Levine's authoritative images

December 29, 2009 |  4:32 pm


Longtime New York Review of Books illustrator David Levine died today in New York. He was 83.

Levine's drawings of authors and cultural icons were exaggerated, but not comical. His political portraits were often pointed -- Richard Nixon rarely looked good when Levine wielded his pen. Once, he told L.A. Times reporter David Ng, he felt bad about a caricature he'd done of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. "I wish I could take it back," he told her.

Since his first illustration ran in the New York Review of Books in 1963, more than 2,500 followed. His drawings became so closely associated with the periodical that it used them in advertisements and marketing materials. It created an online gallery, where his illustrations can be selected and purchased as framed, high-quality prints.

And those who subscribe to the New York Review of Books  -- $69 for a year, which is 20 issues -- will get a free David Levine 2010 wall calendar. It's an offer that was around before Levine's death, and it's fair to say that it's probably good while supplies last.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Images: John Updike, left, and David Foster Wallace. Credit: David Levine, New York Review of Books