Illustration for “How Do You Love Me” in Woman’s Home Companion, August 1950. Gouache on illustration board. © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist
An exhibition opens today at the Museum of the City of New York dedicated to the work of US illustrator, McCauley ‘Mac’ Conner, whose work helped define American advertising from the late 1940 to the early 60s. Accompanying the show is a filmed interview with Conner – who turned 100 last November – which you can watch here…
A keen admirer of the work of Norman Rockwell, which the young artist saw on the covers of the magazines sold in his father’s general store, Conner in fact worked as a sign painter before turning his hand to portraiture and illustration.
Illustration for “Where’s Mary Smith?” in Good Housekeeping, June 1950. Gouache and gesso on masonite. © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist
According to the MCNY, he came to New Yorkto work on wartime Navy publications, staying on to establish a career in the city’s publishing industry.
He then worked on numerous advertising campaigns for classic US brands such as Plymouth automobiles, United Air Lines, Bell Telephone and Ford, while working on magazines like Redbook, McCall’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Women’s Home Companion.
In recent years, the illustrative style that Conner helped to define has caught the popular imagination once again through its exposure in the US TV series, Man Men.
As the New York Times pointed out, “To play up the Mad Men connection, an ad promoting the retrospective, appearing in magazines like New York and The New Yorker, bills Mr. Conner as ‘one of New York’s original Mad Men.’ Along with artwork, the exhibition includes an oversize map of Manhattan in the ’50s that depicts how clustered the big ad agencies, magazine publishers and artists’ studios were.”
Illustration for “Let’s Take a Trip Up the Nile” in This Week Magazine, November 5, 1950. Gouache and graphite on illustration board. © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist
Illustration for “Killer in the Club Car” in This Week Magazine, November 14, 1954. Ink and acetate on illustration board © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist
The exhibition presents over 70 of Conner’s original hand-painted illustrations for campaigns and magazines. An interview with Conner is below.
Mac Conner: A New York Life is at the Museum of the City of New York until January 19 2015. More details at mcny.org.
Illustration for “There’s Death for Remembrance” in This Week Magazine, November 13, 1953. Gouache and ink on illustration board. © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist
Illustration for “We Won’t Be Any Trouble” in Collier’s, November 13, 1953. Gouache on illustration board. © Mac Conner. Courtesy of the artist