Old Drawings of New York

This Is New YorkI found a copy of M. Sasek’s wonderful, recently reissued book “This Is New York” while browsing for holiday gifts in the children’s section at Barnes & Noble. Its pages exude an immediately gratifying warmth as soon as they’re opened; the illustrations, completed over forty years ago, are evocative of the urban, sophisticated-primitive style of drawing that dominated commercial art in the late 1950s, and which owed more than just a passing debt to the work of Ben Shahn. Though Sasek’s drawings depict a New York nearly a century out of date and are rounded out with more than a heaping teaspoon of naivete, they still communicate the precise pitch and tone of Manhattan᾿s noisy, cantankerous character. There’s no mistaking the sense of limitless possibility in these drawings for any other city, which makes this reprint seem remarkably current.