How George Lois Souped Up Esquire

Esquire May 1969.jpg

Last Friday, New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened its exhibition of Esquire covers designed by George Lois. On view through March of next year, the show features 32 of the 92 covers Lois created for Esquire from 1962 to 1972. “I have always seen myself as an artist. And this is the Museum of Modern Art. And I am an artist,” said Lois in an interview with the Associated Press.

And Lois has had some experience dealing with artists whose work adorns the walls of MoMA. In Charles McGrath‘s piece on Lois and the exhibition in yesterday’s New York Times, the writer discusses the remarkable ability of Lois’ typically text-free Esquire covers to convey a single idea through an image. “Some were untouched photographs, but, in an era before Photoshop, some were created by the primitive technique of cutting and pasting, using photographs, clip art, and sometimes hand-drawn elements,” writes McGrath, before extracting from Lois this gem of an anecdote about Esquire‘s May 1969 cover (pictured above), which featured Andy Warhol drowning in a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.

“I remember when we were doing the Warhol cover,” Mr. Lois recalled. “I explained to Andy what I had in mind, and he said, ‘Oh, will you have to build a very big can?'”