Recently, The Museum of the City of New York acknowledged the man who is thought of as one of the city’s original Mad Men, McCauley “Mac” Conner. He created widely-circulated illustrations from the forties through the sixties, and his work is beautiful, and beautifully evocative. His hand-painted illustrations feel like movie posters from iconic noir films. They speak volumes, and I had a great time trying to figure out what they were advertising. By the sixties, thanks to the prevalence of television, photography started to supplant illustration in print ads, and the whole nature of advertising changed, I think for the worse. Don’t get me wrong. I love photography, but there’s something so personal about these illustrations.
After reading “The New York Times'” article about the retrospective, I was struck by how stunned Mr. Conner was to be the subject of a showing. To be that talented and still not expect any kind of notice is both surprising and kind of sad. I’m just glad someone thought to celebrate his beautiful work.
Mac Conner celebrated his 100th birthday last November, and he’s still going strong. Here’s a video of him discussing his work and his early influences.