It isn’t often that we have a centenarian on the site, so today there’s double cause for celebration because not only is designer Mac Conner 100 years old, he’s also a ruddy legend. Mac spent the 1950s living and working in New York as one of the real-life Mad Men, illustrating for The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.
His work is so iconic it’s almost surprising to recall that someone created it; the style is now so ubiquitous and well-known it seems as though it always existed. Sometimes chic, at other times like an illustrated still from a Hitchcock thriller, Mac’s work captures (or did it create?) the mood and look of a decade. Part of Neeley Associates, he worked on advertising for whopping clients like United Airlines, U.S. Army Recruiting, General Motors and Greyhound Lines in those heady whisky-fuelled and Brylcreemed days.
Along with 70 original artworks, The Museum of the City of New York is exhibiting reference photographs, pastel sketches and prints revealing Mac’s creative process and how he collaborated with clients and colleagues. From his early work illustrating wartime Navy training aids, through magazine and advertising artwork to portraiture and childrens’ book designs, the show traces the changing culture of creativity as well as Mac’s long career.
Mac Conner: A New York Life opens at the Museum of the City of New York on 10 September.