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Cartoon Great Mischa Richter

Cartoon Great Mischa Richter





MISCHA RICHTER delighted readers of The New Yorker for a half century.  His magazine art — his preferred term, rather than cartoon — appeared in other magazines over the years as well, but he was best known as one of  The New Yorker’s most prolific contributors.

Starting in January 1942, the magazine published more than 1,500 of his creations. Their common traits were wit, craftsmanship and intellectual curiosity.

His humor kept up with the times and could have a mordant edge to it. His final contribution to The New Yorker showed a couple in a funeral parlor, next to a closed coffin. The woman bends over to press her ear to the lid, and the man, with a puzzled face, observes, ”It must be his beeper.”

His works are in private and museum collections as well as at the Library of Congress. His latest retrospective was at the Provincetown Art Museum in the summer of 1999.

— New York Times.

I first met Mischa in 1972. Mischa was also an accomplished fine artist.  In the 1980s we were colleagues in the Provincetown Group Gallery.  During one of our frequent conversations I contrasted the elegant line of his cartoons with the shapes he created in his abstract paintings.  Richter’s response, “During his lifetime, Daumier was considered a cartoonist.”

One of the great hallmarks of Richter’s cartoons was his ability to create images that didn’t require captions.  For example, a couple intertwined in a complicated romantic embrace in bed, trying to get into the same position depicted in a Japanese erotic print hanging on the wall.

A few days ago the Richter cartoon above appeared in my Facebook memories section.  I have no idea when Mischa created the cartoon — clearly before his death in 2001 — but it was apt when I first posted it to Facebook in 2016, and it’s even more apt today.

Below is a video remembrance from Dan Richter, Mischa’s son, who is also a talented mime, choreographer, actor, writer, and filmmaker.



Dan Richter is a mime, actor, director, choreographer of ape scenes and lead ape in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Video:   ©Raymond Elman, 2016.


DANIEL RICHTER was a struggling mime artist (a student of Paul Curtis) in 1966 when he received a call summoning him to discuss the incomplete opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, then being shot by Stanley Kubrick in London. Deeply impressed by the young mime, Kubrick promptly hired Richter to choreograph and star in “The Dawn of Man” sequence as Moonwatcher, the man-ape who opens the epic film about the origin and future of humankind. Moonwatcher’s Memoir is Richter’s day-by-day account of his year-long education in filmmaking under the command of one of cinema’s most innovative captains.

“I started reading “Moonwatcher’s Memoir, a Diary of 2001, a Space Odyssey” and couldn’t put it down.  I turned to my wife and said, “This is fantastic!  I feel like I’m back there with Stanley.  Dan has really captured what it was like.”  My favorite moment in 2001, A Space Odyssey is in my favorite section of the film, The Dawn of Man.  Dan Richter, as the lead ape, Moonwatcher, always takes my breath away when he’s aimlessly fiddling with some animal bones until one flies away from the impact and we see the penny drop.  He tilts his head just so.  The idea for the first weapon is born, and we’re on our way to the biggest jump cut in cinema history and my own voyage to Jupiter.  For any fan of the film, this is a wonderful gift.”

Keir Dullea


“2001.” 2011.  40 x 60 inches. Mixed media on canvas. Raymond Elman.


With a foreword by Yoko Ono, The Dream is Over, Dan Richter’s memoir covers a ten-year span from 1963 to 1973.

Richter took a year’s leave of absence as lead performer at the American Mime Theatre and teacher at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to study mimetic forms around the world, and was swept up in the exploding counterculture.

London in the sixties is the main backdrop of the memoir. With his friends Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs, Richter helped produce and read their poetry at the legendary Albert Hall poetry reading, as well as publish their poetry.

A close friend of Yoko Ono’s, the main focus of the memoir is the four years Richter lived and worked with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from 1969 to 1973. The Beatles, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan and many other figures from rock ‘n’ roll and the arts fill the pages of the memoir.




“Porch on the Bay.” 1995. 60 x 43 inches. Mixed media on canvas. Raymond Elman.