The Mad Men & Women in Mac Conner: A New York Life

By Malgorzata

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If you still believe in the American Dream, watch Mad Men marathons, and wish a time machine could take you back to 1950s New York, the exhibition Mac Conner: A New York Life is definitely something you don’t want to miss these holidays.

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Above: “How Do You Love Me”, Woman’s Home Companion, 1950

On now through January 19, 2015 at the Museum of The City of New York, the show presents 70 original Mac Conner creations. Conner is said to be one of the most important illustrators and icons of the advertising industry, prolific at a time when big agencies were on the rise. He came to New York in the early 1950s, studying at the Grand Central School of Art before teaming up with two other illustrators to form their own studio. Highly influenced by artists and illustrators Norman Rockwell and Al Parker, his childhood role models, Conner soon became an established and respected illustrator, working for the most popular publications and magazines of the day like The Standard Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Colliers. On the advertising side, his clients included major brands such as United Airlines and General Motors.

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Above: “The Girl Who Was Crazy About Jimmy Durante”, Woman’s Day, September 1953

The exhibition gives us a broader perspective on the advertising world of ’50s and ’60s America that is so well portrayed in the Mad Men series. Conner’s work is also accompanied by letters of instructions from his agency art directors. These supporting documents help us understand the complicated and challenging creative process Conner faced in his everyday work—fulfilling the client’s expectations without sacrificing creativity.

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Above: “Killer in the Club Car”, This Week Magazine, November 14, 1954

Mac Conner: A New York Life is well worth a visit, illuminating the culture and spirit of 1950s/’60s America and its obsession with the American Dream through the creative lens of one of the most iconic illustrators of our time.

Mac Conner: A New York Life

Till January 19, 2015

Museum of The City of New York

1220 5th Avenue, NYC

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