Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: Mischa Richter Proposed New Yorker Cover Art

Mischa Richter's cover proposal for the New Yorker magazine shows Uncle Sam lobbing a ping-pong ball over the Great Wall of China. The artwork is undated, but such an illustration surely must refer to China's ping-pong diplomacy of April 1971. Table tennis players were the first American delegation of any sort to visit the Chinese capital since 1949. This thaw in Sino-American relations was to lead to President Nixon's historic visit to China.

As an artistic comment on contemporary current events, the rejected cover art is more akin to today's topical New Yorker covers than to the type of art the magazine was publishing in the early 1970's. In fact, Richter's conception is not all that dissimilar to the photograph by Norman Webster that was published on the cover of Time magazine's April 26, 1971 issue. That week the New Yorker's published cover was an impressionistic image of Central Park by Arthur Getz which brilliantly captured the light and color of early spring while making no comment whatsoever on any momentous international events.

Mischa Richter, Proposed New Yorker cover art, c. 1971

No, it isn't "tennis."
Swann Auction Galleries, January 22, 2015
Sale 2372, Lot 198
Hammer Price $300

Time, April 26, 1971
Norman Webster, Toronto Globe & Mail

Arthur Getz, The New Yorker, April 24, 1971

Note:  Don't stop now. Why not see all the blog posts here about Mischa Richter?

Studying further examples of proposed but rejected New Yorker cover art is sure to make you a more sought-after dinner party guest.

Arthur Getz illustrated more New Yorker covers than any other artist. Surely he's good for a few blog posts too.

Or maybe ping-pong is your thing...


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