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Friday, April 25, 2008

Culture: George Lois -- The Willy Wonka of Brain Candy

By Noah Mallin

I was thrilled to see that the Museum of Modern Art has a terrific show featuring an old family friend (Hi Mom!) -- George Lois, one of the most revered names in American advertising and graphic design. What makes Lois so incredible is his gift for discerning the mental hook -- whether it be verbal, visual or otherwise -- that will lodge an idea or client in an unsuspecting person's cerebellum. He is the man who came up with the phrase "I want my MTV!"

The show at MOMA is focused on his covers for Esquire magazine from 1962 - 1972, and they are a brilliant bunch. It's refreshing to be confronted with the graphic cleanliness and visual high concepts of Lois covers. Though his covers were the peak of the form, almost any magazine cover of the era is better designed and more eye-grabbing than today's preference for packed-in text, graphics and info all fighting for notice. I highly recommend the show for anyone in New York or visiting, but Lois' website is typically also very well laid-out and has a wealth of visuals. Even better is the extensive commentary from Lois on nearly every example.

Here are two more of my favorites:

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