Edward Koren is undoubtedly one of the most loved and revered cartoonists in the history of The New Yorker. With his first cartoon appearing in 1962, he has since produced over one thousand cartoons, illustrations and covers for the magazine. Famous for his wonderfully fuzzy beasts, Koren delights in making, in his own words, ‘the ordinary and mundane hairy and unshorn’. Edward Koren was born in New York City on 13 December 1935, the son of Polish-born Harry Koren and his Belorussian wife, Elizabeth Sorkin, both of whom had arrived at Ellis Island as children. As a child, Edward attended the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York, where he first indulged in his love of painting and cartooning, working on the school’s yearbook and literary magazine.
Initially enrolling as a pre-medical as a freshman at Columbia University, Edward Koren quickly found himself focusing on more artistic pursuits, contributing regularly to the Columbia’s humour magazine The Jester and becoming its editor in his senior year. After graduating in 1957, he was accepted into Yale for an MFA in graphic design but decided to put it off for a year, instead choosing to work at a city-planning firm.
Six months later and disillusioned with his career path, he was recommended by a professor at Columbia to work with painter and printmaker Stanley William Hayter at his prestigious studio, Atelier 17, in Paris. Travelling first to Cambridge with a friend, he spent a year and a half studying and working with Hayter in Paris, returning to the United States in 1959.
Upon his return, Edward Koren joined the US Army Reserves, spending six months stationed at Fort Dix, Texas. After completing his basic training, he attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, obtaining an MFA degree in art education. Although he took a job first at the Abelard-Schuman publishing company and then at Columbia University Press, Koren was resolved to succeed as an artist, submitting cartoons to various publications in New York City. His first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker on 26 May 1962, beginning an association with the magazine that continues to this day. In the autumn of 1964, he took up a teaching position at Brown University, which he held until 1977.
In addition to his contributions to The New Yorker, Edward Koren’s cartoons and illustrations have appeared in numerous other newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, the Boston Globe, GQ, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Fortune, The Nation and Vanity Fair. He has illustrated numerous books, including How to Eat Like a Child (1978), Teenage Romance (1982)and Do I Have to Say Hello (1989)by Delia Ephron, A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle (1996), The New Legal Seafoods Cookbook by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer (2003), Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie (2006), Oops by Alan Katz (2008), How to Clean Your Room (2010) and Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking by Alan Katz (2011). He has also written and illustrated a number of children’s books, including Don’t Talk to Strange Bears (1969), Behind The Wheel (1972) and Very Hairy Harry (2003).
In 1970, Edward Koren received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. He has received a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Union College, was Distinguished Visitor at The American Academy in Berlin, Germany, in 2003 and received The Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2007. In February 2014, he was appointed as Vermont’s second Cartoonist Laureate, a post he will hold until 2017.
Edward Koren’s work has been exhibited widely across the United States, as well as in France, England and the Czech Republic. A major retrospective of his work, ‘Edward Koren: A Capricious Line’, was held at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery in 2010 and at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum in 2011.
In 1978, Edward Koren bought a house in the small town of Brookfield, Vermont, moving there permanently in 1987. He currently resides there with his wife, Curtis. He has been a member of the Brookfield VT Volunteer Fire Department for 25 years.