Archive for the ‘covarrubias’ Category

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

Caricature: The Genius of Miguel Covarrubias

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

Miguel Covarrubias was one of the most famous artists of his day, but chances are you’ve never heard of him. Caricaturists know his work- Al Hirschfeld studied under Covarrubias and shared a studio with him in 1924. He spoke of Covarrubias’ talent in the same breath as Daumier and Hogarth. Ethnologists and archaeologists know the name of Covarrubias as well. His analysis of pre-Columbian art and the culture of Bali led to books on the subject that have become classics. And his reputation as an anthropologist rivalled any of his peers in that field. Illustrator, caricaturist, anthropologist, author and educator… It’s high time you knew about Covarrubias too!

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

At the age of nineteen, Miguel Covarrubias, already a renowned caricaturist in his home country of Mexico, emigrated to New York City. He was an instant sensation, and his illustrations began appearing in New Yorker and Vanity Fair. Fellow Mexican artist, Diego Rivera described his illustrations as "those caustic but implacably good-humored drawings which, fortunately for his personal safety, people have been misled into calling caricatures. In Covarrubias’ art there is no vicious cruelty, it is all irony untainted with malice; a humor that is young and clean; a precise and well defined plasticity.”

Most of the caricatures from Vanity Fair below depict unlikely pairs of public figures. Click on the links to the Wikipedia entries on these people and see why Covarrubias put them together.


Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Jim Londos & Herbert Hoover
(Vanity Fair, August 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Senator Smith W. Brookhart & Marlene Dietrich
(Vanity Fair, September 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Al Capone & Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes
(Vanity Fair, October 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Clark Gable & Edward, Prince of Wales
(Vanity Fair, November 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Ex-King Alfonso & James J. Walker
(Vanity Fair, December 1932)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Mrs. Ella Boole & Miss Texas Guinan
(Vanity Fair, January 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Arthur Brisbane & The Sphinx
(Vanity Fair, May 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Emily Post
(Vanity Fair, December 1933)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Admiral Richard E. Byrd
(Vanity Fair, December 1934)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Sally Rand & Martha Graham
(Vanity Fair, December 1934)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Dr. Samuel Johnson & Alexander Woolcott
(Vanity Fair, March 1935)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Auguste Piccard & William Beebe
(Vanity Fair, April 1935)

Covarrubias was much more than just an illustrator and caricaturist though. His books on Bali and Mexico revealed a careful analytical mind with an eye for detail. The following article from an arts magazine from 1948 encompasses the latter part of Covarrubias’ career…

By Henry C. Pitz
(January 1948)

Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature
Miguel Covarrubias Caricature

Many thanks to the ever-faithful supporter of Animation Resources, Kent Butterworth for sharing this wonderful material from his own collection with us.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Magazine CartoonsMagazine Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Magazine Cartoons.

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Monday, December 6th, 2010

Biography: Miguel Covarrubias

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Birth: November 22, 1904
Death: February 4, 1957


A man of many talents, Covarrubias is known for being a Caricaturist, Illustrator, Author, Educator, Set Designer, Painter, Muralist, Ethnologist, and Anthropologist.

Bio Summary

Born in Mexico City, Miguel immigrated to New York City at the age of nineteen. Already an established artist in Mexico, he was able to quickly make a name for himself in the U.S. Mexican poet José Juan Tablada and New York Times critic/photographer Carl Van Vechten introduced Miguel to New York’s literary/cultural elite allowing him the opportunity to draw for some of New York’s most popular magazines. Miguel loved to immerse himself into other cultures as well as travel the world. His interest and love for all peoples is greatly represented in his artwork.

Early Life/Family

Miguel Covarrubias met Rosa Rolanda, a Broadway dancer, in New York in 1924. They later married in 1930. Their similar interests allowed them to collectively collaborate in projects together. They traveled the world spending significant time in Europe, Cuba, Bali, China, and New York, but eventually finally settled in Mexico where they mingled with many Mexican artists and intellectuals, including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Dolores del Rio, Antonio Ruiz, Roberto Montenegro, and Carlos Chávez.



Career Outline

A regular illustrator for such magazines as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Fortune, he also wrote and or illustrated many books:
· The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans Miguel Covarrubias, 1925
· The Weary Blues Langston Hughes, (Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias) 1926
· An Anthology of the Blues W.C. Handy, (Illustrated Plates by Covarrubias) 1927
· Negro Drawings Miguel Covarrubias, 1927
· Meaning No Offense John Riddell (Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias) 1928
· Frankie & Johnny John Huston, (Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias) 1930
· Mules and Men Zora Neale Hurston, (Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias)1935
· Typee Herman Melville (Illustrations by Miguel Covarrubias), Limited Editions, 1935
· Island of Bali 1937
· Mexico South 1946
· The Eagle, the Jaguar, and the Serpent – Indian Art of the Americas; North America: Alaska, Canada, the United States 1954
· Mezcala, Ancient Mexican Sculpture, with William Spratling & André Emmerich, 1956
· Indian Art of Mexico and Central America 1957

Comments On Style

Miguel’s artwork features a simple line style but he has an ability to capture the essence and feeling of his subject matter. Although he has a highly stylized way of depicting his human figures, the simplicity of his work is both playful, entertaining, and often an intriguing commentary on the well known figures in his time.


Miguel was greatly influenced by his surroundings. His environment gave him great inspiration for much of his work. Living in New York, he was in a place filled with people of all walks of life. His love for Jazz and the culture inspired his Negro Drawings in the same way his travels brought him to write Island of Bali. He was well respected by artists of his time and influenced such artists as Al Hirshfeld.






1929 National Art Directors’ Medal

Related Links

Bibliographic References

Williams, Adriana. Covarrubias. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Contributors To This Listing


To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

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