Hanoch Piven
posted: September 11, 2009
The discussion in Felix Sockwell's page about sources of inspiration made me go back and remember what exactly jumpstarted for me the way of working I have been doing for almost twenty years now. It is a good excuse to talk in general about inspirations too.

As a Junior year student at SVA in 1990, I haven't done almost any collage before. My main interest were Caricature and Illustration but due to my own frustration with my 'performance' in these fields, and my 'advanced' age (was already 27) I switched to major in Graphic Design. An independent Caricature class with Sam Viviano, a Mad Magazine illustrator and nowadays, the AD of Mad, was the only real illustration class I was taking that semester. (that was a suggestion of Richard Wilde the head of Graphic Design). Working with Sam one on one led to some deep introspection and to some experimenting which produced my first collage piece. I have a very vivid recollection of the sort of images I was looking at or admiring back then.

Andre François was a major favorite of mine at the time. I loved the dialogue between object and painted line in this image. The fact that there is only one 'object' makes us really understand its essence, its reason to be there, and thus the message is so clearly communicated....
I kept borrowing from the library a book of Tulio Pericoli and kept looking in it. Sam Viviano and I were examining this amazing Beckett caricature and it hit us that the coat seemed to be made on a different piece of paper and glued on top. That led Sam to introduce the term 'collage' to our talks for the first time..
I found this poster in the Picture Collection of the Mid Manhattan Library (shhhhh I stole it and still have it here with me, ok ok less dramatic than that, I did pay the fine) I was totally amazed by its minimalism. With so little, so much is said here. Once I saw it I said: I can get likenesses with little information too! I'm going to try that on Saddam Hussein....
During the late eighties the images of Sandy Skoglund were in every poster and postcard shop. I loved them and had postcards of them pinned to the wall.
As someone who had trouble controlling a complex palette, I was attracted to the limited yet exact use of color. These images also created an emotional story with quite a simple idea....
Also, looking at Skoglund's work, the whole idea of hierarchy of elements and colors became clearer to me. Guy Billout as my teacher had a lot to do with me understanding it. Guy is the Master of guiding your eye through a page exactly to where he wants it to go!...
Also I got to see a couple of shows of Skoglund in Soho. I still love her work....
God knows how but with all those images in my head and with the strike of luck of a box of matches being there at the right time, (and remember this is the time RIGHT BEFORE the First Gulf War) within 2 weeks I think I came up with this first caricature collage....
Perhaps the biggest luck of all was also having the right teachers around at the time: Sam Viviano, Guy Billout, Carin Goldberg as a Graphic Design teacher, Jack Potter as an amazing Drawing teacher and Richard Wilde not only as teacher but also as an enthusiastic advocate of me developing myself as a caricaturist while majoring in Graphic Design.

Mark Fisher September 11, 2009
Hanoch, Great seeing the building of your personal style. The Saddam is so fine.
laura levine September 11, 2009
hanoch, what a great post!!!!
Victor Juhasz September 11, 2009
Thanks for an excellent post, Hanoch. A great, inspiring instructor is a gift. A number of great instructors is a blessing multiplied. Superb Saddam.
Carl Wiens September 11, 2009
Thanks Hanoch - enjoyable post and some great images - I've never seen Skoglund's work. Amazing!
Paul Rogers September 11, 2009
Great post, Hanoch. You were born to make collage images. I was just reading about how all great artists manage to absorb the lessons of the past, and then extend those ideas in new ways. I'm sure your instructors were thrilled to see your first breakthrough piece.
Tsk tsk September 11, 2009
You stole from the Picture Collection? For shame! Do the right thing and send it back. Public libraries are about sharing -- don't you know that?! Sheesh
Hanoch Piven September 11, 2009
Hey Tsk Tsk, I did pay my fine to the Library and my debt to Society.. (besides why commenting 20 times the same thingy? - I was so happy to have 20 comments and they turned out to be all by you..)
Harry September 11, 2009
Thanks for reminding me of the picture library. I remember spending hours in there, and also sealing with the rather curt librarians. Felix's post had me thinking as well-about who or what inspires me, and I'm really not sure. Thanks for the insight into your beginnings.
Dale Stephanos September 11, 2009
My favorite post of the past few months. Great stuff Hanoch, nice to see where you came from artistically.
Leo Espinosa September 11, 2009
You certainly have managed to digest all this influences and translate them in a very different way, my ready made pibe. PS: Didn't know Andre François. Shame on me.
Mark Ulriksen September 11, 2009
Hanoch, It's so cool and inspiring to see this. I remember back in my magazine days seeing your promo with a quartet of caricatures, atop a stack of other promos, and it just jumped out at all of us in the art department. Your ability to say so much so simply and with such wit in the choices of props is all your own and it's fabulous.
Hanoch Piven September 11, 2009
Hey Stephen I had no idea you posted about Lou Hirschman in Drawger. I discovered him in 1994. Joe Palma showed it to me in this book: "How to Draw Caricatures" or something like that. I also tried to find more about him but nothing more than the couple of caricatures you posted. In 2004 when I was in The Library of Congress, I inquired if they had anything of him and they even have not heard of him. Very curious. I have seen one or two collage caricatures of Covarrubias, (or was it Garreto..?) in this book Celebrity Caricature in America, (one of the Marx Brothers). That book refers to the times of Hirschman and if I recall correctly there is another piece of his there. It makes sense that in the 20's and 30's when Dada was big, illustrators experimented with collage. Leo check out more of Andre François! Thanks Laura, Carl, Harry, Mark F., Victor, Paul and Dale for digging the stuff. Mark I remember writing your name on the envelope, and still have your card in my Rolodex "Mark Ulriksen: San Francisco Examiner"(was it?) Should I send you another promo?
Marina September 12, 2009
Hanoch, thank you so much for sharing the process of developing your unique style! All beginner illustrators are influenced by so many things... So, the ability to absorb them, to filter and to stay yourself after all is what I'm looking for now.
Hanoch Piven September 14, 2009
Thans so much MArina. Hey Razzz, I mistakenly erased your comment, please send it again. Very sorry about it. Please come to the upcoming Hiriya Workshops: Oct 2nd and 3rd.
Wishawna September 14, 2009
Stealing stuff from the library?! You truly are a menace to society. In most civilized societies, you would have your right hand cut off for theft.