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Grolier Club Exhibitions

Images of a Nation: Art and Magazines

Many of the most recognizable names in the history of American art were associated with magazines, including Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andy Warhol. Not only did they design some of the most iconic covers of the eighteenth – twentieth centuries, these artists also used magazines to share their philosophies with fellow creators.

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After Winslow Homer. From Harper’s Weekly, September 20, 1873. New York: Harper Brothers.

Winslow Homer’s association with Harper’s Weekly began in 1858. His best remembered magazine illustrations are those of military life during the Civil War, New England coastal views, and his masterpiece, “Snap the Whip,” that appeared on September 20, 1873. Homer also provided illustrations for Ballou’s Pictorial, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Galaxy, Every Saturday, Our Young Folks, Appleton’s Journal, and Harper’s Bazaar. He retired from magazine illustration in 1875.

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The Tammany Tiger Loose.—"What are you going to do about it?”

Thomas Nast. From Harper’s Weekly, November 11, 1871. New York: Harper Brothers.

Thomas Nast was America’s greatest political cartoonist. His legendary association with Harper’s Weekly brought about the popularization of the Democratic donkey, and the creation of the Republican elephant, the Tammany tiger and the modern image of Santa Claus. His biting political cartoons helped bring down political bosses (most famously, the notorious William Marcy Tweed) and presidential candidate too! 

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Bradley, His Book.

Volume 1, number 1, May 1896. Springfield Massachusetts: Will H. Bradley.

Will Bradley is an important figure in American magazine history not only for his work as an illustrator, but also as one of the most influential magazine designers of the early twentieth century. His masterwork, Bradley, His Book, was published at his Wayside Press at the same time his work graced the covers of some of the most beautiful magazines of the Art Nouveau era.

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The Saturday Evening Post: An Illustrated Weekly.

Volume 188, number 47, May 20, 1916. Philadelphia: Curtis Publishing Company.

Signed and inscribed by Norman Rockwell. Rockwell’s career began in 1913 as art editor for the Boy Scouts of America’s magazine, Boy’s Life, an association that lasted until 1976. The first of his legendary 321 covers for The Saturday Evening Post appeared on May 20, 1916. Rockwell produced illustrations for hundreds of covers, stories, and advertisements for a wide variety of magazines including Literary Digest, Ladies Home Journal, and the humor weeklies Life and Judge.

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Volume 9, number 6, June 1979. New York: Interview Enterprises.

Even before the emergence of his classic pop-art style in the 1960s, Andy Warhol was a busy commercial artist. Between 1948 and 1987, he created illustrations for over 400 magazines. More than fifty were covers. Warhol began his signature magazine Inter/View in September 1969 and promoted circulation by personally distributing issues to the avant-garde of the New York City art scene. This issue was a contest prize, signed by Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.