The Original Mad Man: Illustrations by Mac Conner
February 9, 2019 – May 12, 2019
Between 1940 and 1960, before advancements in print technology and the proliferation of photography, ad companies relied on illustrators, Ad Men, to give their brands a visual identity. Advertisements in popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Women’s Day and McCall’s established a shorthand for aspirational, middle-class American living: fedoras, cigarette holders, swooning large-eyed women and men in sharply tailored leisurewear.
The Original Mad Man: Illustrations by Mac Conner, a special exhibit organized by the Museum of the
City of New York, features the work of McCauley (Mac) Conner, one of the leading “Ad Men” of the 1950s and 60s. During this time, Conner’s captivating advertising and editorial illustrations graced the pages of major magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day, and The Saturday Evening Post, helping shape the popular image of postwar America.
The exhibit explores the enduring influence of commercial artists on 1960s fashion, film, music, literature, social norms and art; as well as one man’s prolific career in New York City, the world’s media capital and the country’s publishing center, in the pivotal years after World War II.
Over 70 original hand-painted illustrations, pastel sketches and ephemera from Conner’s private collection highlight his illustration process. Correspondence with editors and art directors provide visitors with a glimpse inside the dynamic world of publishing at a time when the advertising industry was at its height and almost entirely on New York’s Madison Avenue. Conner and his “Mad Men” (Madison Avenue) contemporaries perfected the art of the sale and transformed American culture.
Take a minute to listen as Elizabeth Gunter, Director of Education & Programs, Upcountry History Museum – Furman University joined me on Week N Pulse.