Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"Mac Conner: A New York Life" at Museum of the City of New York

Ads in The New Yorker and the New York Times for the Mac Conner exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York associate him with the "Mad Men" television series and with good reason. Conner, 100 years old, is an illustrator whose work for ads and magazines, including Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post and Cosmopolitan, reflected the American culture of the '40s, '50s and '60s. Illustrators such as Conner played an integral role in postwar ads and in women's magazine stories (see illustration above for "Let's Take a Trip Up the Nile," This Week Magazine, November 5, 1950). Conner's art celebrated postwar materialism and reinforced traditional sex roles, yet it took a darker turn as the 50s progressed and "the age of anxiety" became a familiar theme. He illustrated stories dealing with juvenile delinquency (the focus of the film "Blackboard Jungle," 1955) and troubled relations between men and women. During the '60s, pictures depicting an exclusively white America and happy housewives became increasingly dated with the civil rights and women's movements; however, Conner richly documented an American cultural period in this fascinating exhibit. Below is a video in which Conner discusses his career. Watch:

"Mac Conner: A New York Life" continues through February 1, 2015, at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue (at 103rd Street), NYC, 212-534-1672, www.mcny.org

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