At MoMA with George Lois

Just got back from NYC. Spent some time at the MoMA (thanks for the member’s free pass Marci). Was inspired by George Lois: The Esquire Covers. The legendary advertising man revolutionized magazine cover art from 1962-1972 as Esquire‘s Art Director. I found his designs to be instantaneously thought provoking, visually stunning, always controversial (if you have the time period in mind), and imbued with a sense of narrative.

And he did it all without photoshop. WITHOUT photoshop! In the exhibit they have the contact sheets from the Ali shoot. Without realizing it, I had assumed the arrows and blood were a post-production endeavor. Duh. No. It’s called props, make-up, lighting, performance and in-camera brilliance. Good to remember that vision is not always a matter of technology.

Lois was responsible for saving MTV with his “I want my MTV” campaign, naming Lean Cuisine, and launching Tommy Hilfiger to fame with one ad.

Below are some of my favorites of Lois’ covers included with his own commentary.

The RKO St. Patrick's Marquee


















To my mind, American postwar films basically remained white-bread until a stoned Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and crew brought the biggie Hollywood studios to their knees with the cheapo, culture-crashing Easy Rider. So I gave it one. I focused on the new movies and called it “The Faith of Our Children.”

 Ali as St. Sebastian

“In 1968, while [Ali] was waiting for his appeal to reach the Supreme Court, I wanted to pose him as St. Sebastian, modeled after the 15th-century painting by Castagno that hangs in the Metropolitan.  At the studio, I showed him a postcard of the painting to illustrate the stance.  He studied it with enormous concentration.  Suddenly he blurted out, “Hey, George, this cat’s a Christian!” I blurted back, “Holy Moses, you’re right, Champ!”
Any Warhol
“Warhol was a major-league showman.  Any guy who can parlay a soup can (not to mention the Brillo box) into personal superstardom may not fit my definition of an artist but he’s certainly hot stuff.  When this article in Esquire came up, I decided to show him drowning in his own soup.   We photographed Warhol and the open can of soup separately.  When we put Andy into the soup, we almost lost him.”

**Four hours until I’m eating steak at the table I’m hosting at the Annual AFI Alumni dinner at Morton’s. It’s good to be back.**


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