Anthony Haden-Guest: journalist, art critic, soldier, amateur boxer, war correspondent, escapee from a WWII internment camp, and cartoonist.
By Simon Constable
Some people manage to fit more into their list of achievements than seems reasonable. Take, for instance, British-born Anthony Haden-Guest: journalist, art critic, soldier, amateur boxer, war correspondent, escapee from a WWII internment camp, and cartoonist. He also wrote The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night, and numerous other books.
That list only scrapes the surface. “Some people can be a Mozart or Keats and be together by twenty years old,” he says modestly. “Or you can be like me; just turned eighty and learning how to handle your weaknesses.” He’s obviously handling them quite well.
Earlier this year, for his eightieth birthday party he held a boxing match in which, among others, he fought off an opponent dressed as President Donald Trump. Not long after that, he brought forth his latest collection of art “The Further Chronicles of Now,” which opened at Anderson Contemporary in fashionable lower Manhattan.
As with his boxing match, Haden-Guest is irreverent, but that's not the whole of it. He draws his cartoons mainly in ink, with limited color and seems to follow two rules of thumb simultaneously: bold is better, and less is more. Together they morph into a well defined aesthetic. That’s something with which he has wrestled over time. “I was a photographer for a while and and I realized that if I took a roll of 36 pictures, they would look like they’d been taken by four different photographers,” he says. “That’s a killer for a photographer.” Likewise, he looks back at his drawings and wishes everything from more than a decade ago was turned to ash.
For him, the process of ‘cartoonery,’ is deliberate. “Any artist will tell you there is always a mystery about how everything got there,” he explains. “That is not true about cartoons – it has to be a missile – even the colors should help towards to the joke.”
Of course, one wonders what deliberate field Haden-Guest will take on now he’s entering his ninth decade.