Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seeing is Believing: Rea Irvin for The New Yorker

"Are you one of the doubting ones, still waiting to be convinced that advertising in The New Yorker pays?" In 1939, the New Yorker devoted a page in the magazine to recruiting potential advertisers. Using the profitable experience of an unnamed British bottling company, the ad encouraged marketers to use the magazine to generate a similar increase in their own sales.

Rea Irvin illustrated the promotion with an unnerving magician's conjuring act. Under the copy "Seeing is Believing," a magician goes through the motions of sawing a woman in half. She is not secured in the usual trick box, but merely lies under a sheet, which suggests that the teeth of the saw are directly against her flesh. Surely this is an unsettling image with which to promote the supposed magic of the New Yorker's marketing prowess. The illustration also chooses to depict a very specific theatrical instance in which seeing is decidedly, one hopes, not believing.

Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, July 1, 1939, page 60

Note:  Very nearly ninety years ago now, Rea Irvin created the observant dandy Eustace Tilley for the cover of the New Yorker's premiere issue. Irvin served as the magazine's first art editor and illustrated a great many covers  and interior drawings for the magazine. In addition, his Eustace Tilley became famous and reappeared annually in late February on the magazine's cover, at least until recent times. Click on the aqua link to see my blog posts on this extraordinary artist in the magazine's history and by all means inform me if you have access to any of his outstanding work.

While you're at it, you might enjoy my earlier posts featuring extraordinary examples of advertising art.


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