October 07, 1985 12:00 PM

by Paul Davis

Because Davis is a gifted illustrator, this collection of his popular portraits is worth flipping through. Here are all those famous folks we’ve eyeballed on his posters and magazine and record covers, and deep-sixed into our collective unconscious. The brief introduction by Davis’ pal Kurt Vonnegut sets the tone: This is slick, commercial art, stuff of the moment if not for the ages. The Davis gallery of rogues and heroes includes Henry Kissinger, Machiavellian in toga and laurel wreath, a smug, girlish-looking Gloria Steinem, and Geraldine Ferraro in an excessively flattering boardroom portrait done in colored pencils. The Kennedy clan makes appearances too: the JFKs, father and son, RFK against a midnight sky and matriarch Rose wearing pearls and a horsey smile. What redeems Davis’ worshipful image of Bob Dylan is the nasty stubble he has left on the singer’s upper lip. Happily, Davis has also included two of his strongest graphic pieces, the powerful poster of a young migrant worker (made in 1968 for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers) and a sinister rendition of Raul Julia as The Threepenny Opera’s Mack the Knife. Disappointingly skimpy notes accompany Davis’ faces. Also don’t look for page numbers or a table of contents. This book is truly meant for skimming. (Friendly Press, $24.95)

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