David Schorr (1947 – 2018) was an American artist whose work spans painting, drawing, intaglio printmaking, lithography, and engraving. Lauded for his in-depth and multifaceted projects, Schorr explored diverse themes such as comedy, music, the AIDS crisis, and nostalgia through his particular approach that emphasizes historical research, the idea of the collection, and the animation of everyday objects. His paintings, drawings, and prints are known for their layered surfaces of objects or figures. An illustrator and calligrapher, Schorr often incorporated text and literary references or inspiration into his work.
Schorr’s major print projects include lithographs about AIDS with an accompanying catalogue, Songs with a Dying Fall featuring an essay by Paul Monette; Roman Prints and Drawings, reviving “lost” techniques such as burin engraving and silverpoint drawing; My Verdi, a series of color engravings about the opera; Unconstraining Voices, a series of 60 engraved portraits; and a suite of intaglio prints made to accompany Norman Shapiro’s translation of Charles Baudelaire’s poems, Les Fleurs du Mal.
A native of Chicago, Schorr received his BA from Brown University and his BFA and MFA from Yale University. He began teaching at Wesleyan University in 1971 and taught a wide range of courses including printmaking, drawing, typography, book design, graphic design, and calligraphy for nearly 5 decades. In 2015, he received the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching. He was a Fulbright scholar three times, to Italy in 1975 where he worked at the Calcographia Nazionale in Rome and to India in 1998 and 2001. He served many years as an adjunct professor at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.
Schorr was a regular illustrator of The New Republic’s literary sections, which ultimately published more than 300 of his portraits of writers. His work has also been published in prestigious magazines and newspapers, among them New York Times Sunday Book Review, has been reproduced in The New York Times, The New York Times Sunday Book Review, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Poetry Magazine, and The New Republic.
Mary Ryan Gallery held eight exhibitions of Schorr’s work between 1986 and 2012. Each of his solo exhibitions was accompanied by an artist’s book designed by Schorr. Paul Monette, Phyllis Rose, Richard Howard, Judith Thurman, Stephen Greenblatt, and Jonathan Galassi wrote the essays for his artist books.
Schorr was commissioned for major murals and posters by the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Opera, Scaramouche restaurant in Toronto, Verdi restaurant in Santa Monica, and many other private and public institutions. His work is held in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge; the New York Public Library; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; the Morgan Library, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery, Washington, DC; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. Schorr lived and worked between New York City and Middletown, CT.