New Book!

Ed Arno, Long-time contributor to The New Yorker, Has Died

Word has arrived that Ed Arno, whose work began appearing in The New Yorker in 1969, passed away May 27, 2008. His last published New Yorker cartoon appeared October 15, 2001. A collection of cartoons, "Ed Arno's Most Wanted" was published in 1998 by Turtle Point Press. Ed was 92.

In February of this year I wrote a piece for The New Yorker's blog which contains a mini- biography/appreciation of Ed. In his honor, I've re-posted it here ( in slightly edited form):

The Two Arnos

Other than the question of whether or not they’re related (they’re not), I don’t think there’s ever been any confusion about The New Yorker’s two Arnos, Peter and Ed. Just in case though, here’s an Arno primer:

Peter Arno was born in New York City, up in Morningside Heights, in 1904; Ed Arno was born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1916, and his family moved within months after his birth to Czernowitz, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Peter began contributing his drawings to the magazine in June, 1925. Ed made his début in September, 1969, although he really began contributing in 1967, when his ideas were bought and handed over to other artists to draw up into finished cartoons. (One of these artists was…Peter Arno.)

According to Ed, when he first submitted work to The New Yorker, he was told by James Geraghty, the art editor, that there wasn’t room for two Arnos in the pages of the magazine: “We can’t use two Arnos here.” When Peter Arno died in February, 1968, the magazine found room for Ed.

Both men altered their names to arrive at “Arno.” Peter, born Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr., abandoned his first name; removed the “s” from his surname and turned it into his first name; and plucked out his middle name, shortened it, and made it his new surname. Peter signed his name in full—”Peter Arno”—although sometimes he went with just “P. A.” The name change occurred as Peter transitioned into his professional life, in 1925.

Ed Arno, born Arnold Edelstein, took the “Ed” from “Edelstein” and the “Arno” from “Arnold,” then switched them around. His drawings are signed with his full name, “Ed Arno,” which he began using while living in Paris in the mid-to-late thirties, doing illustration work. He was, at that time, unaware of Peter Arno.

Other than these intersections, there’s plenty of space between the two Arnos. Ed’s drawing style could be said to be the opposite of Peter’s. Ed’s single lines flow and are somewhat Thurberesque, although more “baked” than Thurber’s. (Dorothy Parker, in her introduction to Thurber’s collection “The Seal in the Bedroom and Other Predicaments,” described Thurber’s drawings as “having the outer semblance of unbaked cookies.”). The New Yorker writer, Brendan Gill called Ed’s lines “skittering squiggles.”

Peter’s lines flowed in his earliest New Yorker days, but began to harden, true as iron beams, in the mid-thirties, when his style became all about structure and contrast.

Both men’s work covers the vast territories most cartoonists plow; when Gill wrote about Ed as “a satirist of contemporary human follies,” he could have just as easily been writing about Peter, or, for that matter, all cartoonists.

Peter Arno and I never met, never spoke to each other. When he died in 1968, at the tender age of sixty-four, I was still nearly a decade away from beginning my career at The New Yorker. It might be fair to say that I made his acquaintance late, after spending much of this past decade researching and writing about his life.

I met Ed Arno only twice. The first time was in late 1979, at the opening for an exhibit of his work at the Austrian Institute in Manhattan. He told me that my last name meant “grape” in a foreign language (sadly, I can’t remember which one). We ran into each other again at Arnold Newman’s New Yorker-cartoonist group-photograph shoot in September, 1997. In the published photograph, Ed’s the one to the extreme left of the group, wearing the Prussian helmet, having a heck of a good time pouring himself a glass of champagne.

A short biography appeared in the catalog accompanying an exhibit of Ed's work, "Ed Arno Cartoons" at The Austrian Institute ( the exhibit ran from November 21, 1979 through January 4, 1980):

Born in Czernowitz ( Austro-Hungarian Monarchy) [Note: the confusion over his place of birth place was addressed in his last book "Ed Arno's Most Wanted". His true birthplace was Innsbruck]
1937 studies art in Paris at the Ecole Paul Colin
1939 returns to Czernowitz to work as a cartoonist, graphic designer, stage designer
1940 - 1944 in German and Rumanian labor camps
1945 lives in Bucherest ( Rumania), works as art director and artist for a publisher of children's books
His works as a cartoonist are being published in satirical magazines in Rumania and the Soviet Union
1965 emigrates to the United States, publishes in The New York Times, Look, Saturday Review, Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, etc.
1969 starts publishing in The New Yorker
1972 International Prize SOTTOSEGRETARIO INTERNI ( A. Sarti) in Italy
1974 President Gerald Ford aquires a drawing for the White house
1975 Drawings "Venice in Peril" chosen by the Council of Europe for Exhibition in Europe to raise funds for saving Venice
Cartoons and posters of Ed Arno in numerous public and private Collections

Old Book!