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Exhibition Drawn to Purpose

Magazine Covers and Cartoons

In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, female illustrators and cartoonists published drawings in the pages and on the covers of illustrated American magazines. Eye-catching covers attracted readers and established a publication’s visual identity as well as signaled the issue’s content. Drawings by caricaturist Peggy Bacon and New Yorker cartoonists Helen Hokinson and Dorothy McKay underscored women’s changing perceptions of themselves in the first half of the twentieth century. Decades apart, cover designs by Anne Harriet Fish and Anita Kunz each reference a theme in the magazine. Some forty years earlier, Ethel Plummer portrayed modern female prototypes in her 1914 Vanity Fair cover as tall, slim, self-possessed young women sporting the latest fashions. In “Mixed Marriage,” New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast depicts a wife humorously ranting to her husband in a sequence of comic strip panels. Photography and innovative typography began to transform magazine design by the mid-1930s, while cover art and cartoon styles continue to evolve as vibrant platforms of creativity for visual artists.

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