Art on the Newsstands: Illustrations in Magazines and News Media
By Lexi Brendel, MCMA Intern
July 8 – December 18, 2022
For centuries, magazines and news outlets hired illustrators to draw and paint enticing scenes to highlight each edition, rather than have a cover model photoshoot. Artists like Norman Rockwell, James Montgomery Flagg, and others in this display built their careers by illustrating for magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and Harper’s Weekly.
Works like Tired but Happy by Norman Rockwell feature windows into the quieter moments of life, often comical in tone or subject. Other pieces in this exhibition of works from the MCMA Permanent Collection offer glimpses into more solemn moments of war and life’s darkness in order to share the scenes with readers before photography became the standard marketing practice.
These exhibited illustrators’ use of expression is one key factor in the success of their designs. Whether amusing like Flagg’s Selling Slogans or serious like Winslow Homer’s The Approach of the British Pirate “Alabama,” the subjects’ expressions and stature add power to the illustration and the story being told. These pieces in the Museum’s collection also contain vignettes and elaborate borders to fit the publication. These mark the difference between art made for publication and work created to stand alone as an individual piece of art. These artists offer great examples of how art on the newsstands can adapt to their publications with the greatest impact.