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american art deco collection


Collection Exhibition Series Vol.13

American Illustration of the 1930s

American Illustration of the 1930s (Flyer image)

American Illustration of the 1930s (Exhibition venue)

For the United States, the beginning of the 20th Century was an era characterized by technological innovation and major changes in every area of daily life. Among developments in a variety of industries, the development of media was extremely significant for a country covering such a large territory. From the 1910s through the 1930s, the leading media were printed materials like newspapers and magazines as well as radio, and with their overwhelming spread, they provided abundant knowledge and information to the masses and also had become very powerful in the market.

The visualization of printed materials like magazines played an important role in the remarkable development of the printing industry. In the 19th Century, prior to the introduction of color printing illustration had been very expensive. It soon became commonplace, and a powerful influence on advertising outcome, which is hard to imagine happening today. Large-scale illustrations that flooded the paper with color and published advertising stunned the masses. Shrewd advertisers put up ad after clever ad, advertising income continually increased, and magazines themselves became less expensive, easier to buy, and at the same time, more glamorous.

This synergy brought huge profits, and the magazine publishing business saw rapid growth. As the printing industry grew, illustration, by meeting its many needs, also experienced the simultaneous emergence of many talents and achievements, and star illustrators became indispensable to the publishing industry. Sometimes these illustrators’ work had enough power to affect sales of products or magazines and thus became venues in which artists were debuted. And it wasn’t just magazines; as part of Roosevelt’s economic policy, an artist support program was put together within the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and many artists were appointed to create tourism posters and other works. Most of those vivid and individualistic tourism promotion posters are composed of just illustration and minimum copy, and are sufficiently spectacular, even today.


Fortune Magazine Fortune Magazine

Fortune (Cover page)/Year: 1938 (Left)/Year: 1935 (Right)

Collier's New York World’s Fair

Collier’s (Cover page)/Year: 1938 (Left)
New York World’s Fair Poster/Year: 1940 (Right)

Indian Court The Saturday Evening Post

St. Francisco World’s Fair Indian Court Official Poster/Year: 1939 (Left)
The Saturday Evening Post (Cover page)/Year: 1939 (Right)

Texas Hawaii

Poster “Texas/Year: 1936 (Left)
United Air Lines Hawaii Tourism Poster/Era: 1940s (Right)

Design Museum Collection Exhibition Series vol.13
American Illustration of the 1930s
In the 1930s, exceptional illustrations began to pop up in all sorts of fields. Here we presented about 80 pieces from the period, from works by Norman Rockwell, who garnered great fame from his covers for the Saturday Evening Post, and other work and modern illustrations that graced the cover of Fortune magazine, to illustrations with motifs reminiscent of southern nations, referencing the contemporary surge in travel.
Period: March 14 – April 13, 2008
Venue: Design Museum, International Design Center NAGOYA
Organizer: International Design Center NAGOYA Inc.