• Steven Heller

Tom Wolfe’s Satiric Passion

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In 1979 Tom Wolfe, who passed away last Monday at age 88, wrote the introduction for an exhibition catalog I produced (my first) about the German satiric magazine Simplicissimus (der Simpl). I owe so much to him for his generosity and enthusiasm on this project. I had learned that he was a der Simpl fan. In fact, he was a cartoonist as well, working in the der Simpl style (a combination of many talented graphic commentators). Shortly after the exhibit he published his own anthology of cartoon images, In Our Time.

I am certain that having his imprimatur helped get the exhibition its notice in The New York Times. Although Times chief art critic Hilton Kramer gave it a somewhat grudging review, it was still a feather to have the serious acknowledgement.

Wolfe was so enamored by the graphic eloquence of this singularly important, artist-run magazine, that the logo for his block association in Manhattan, which he designed, included a version of the Th Th Heine unchained bulldog (below), the symbol of der Simpl‘s rabid wit. You will also notice one of his own drawings on the second page of his introduction—a portrait with a nod to der Simpl as well and ever so slight resemblance to himself.

Thank you Tom for your unforgettable support (and sorry for the typos I missed in the proofreading).

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