The stories behind The New Yorker's iconic covers | Françoise Mouly | Summary and Q&A

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The stories behind The New Yorker's iconic covers | Françoise Mouly

TL;DR

In this talk, the art editor of The New Yorker discusses the power of images to capture moments and engage with readers.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What was the main goal of the art editor when they were brought to The New Yorker?

The main goal of the art editor was to rejuvenate The New Yorker by bringing in new artists, engaging with the current time period, and bringing back the lost humor that the magazine had become known for.

Q: How did the art editor aim to capture the essence of different time periods through the magazine's images?

The art editor sought out images from different time periods, such as the Great Depression, that not only depicted how people dressed or what their cars looked like, but also showcased what made them laugh and what their prejudices were. This allowed readers to get a true sense of what it felt like to be alive during those times.

Q: How does the art editor select the images that are published in The New Yorker?

The art editor calls on contemporary artists and gives them themes to work with, such as being in the subway or Valentine's Day. These artists then send sketches, which are approved by the editor, and once approved, the images are published.

Q: How do the images in The New Yorker engage with the reader?

The images in The New Yorker are not meant to tell the reader what to think, but rather to make them think. The artist draws the dots, and it is up to the reader to complete the picture. This engagement with the images allows readers to challenge and rearrange the stereotypes in their own minds.

Q: How did the art editor capture moments of loss and mourning without using traditional images?

After the September 11 attacks, the art editor wanted to do a black cover to capture the moment, but it didn't feel right. However, their husband, a cartoonist, suggested doing the silhouette of the Twin Towers in black on black. This minimalist approach captured the essence of loss and mourning through the absence of an image.

Q: How does The New Yorker capture historic moments through its images?

The New Yorker captures historic moments through the images it publishes. For example, they published an image by Bob Staake after the election of Barack Obama, which captured the significance of the moment. The magazine also published images after the election of Donald Trump and during the Women's March, reflecting the current cultural and political climate.

Q: What does the art editor value the most about the images in The New Yorker?

The art editor values the diversity and uniqueness of each image in The New Yorker. They are proud of how different every image is from one another, which is a testament to the talent and diversity of the artists who contribute to the magazine.

Q: How does the art editor believe artists can contribute to the cultural dialogue?

The art editor believes that artists, armed with just India ink and watercolor, can capture and enter into the cultural dialogue of a society. From the sublime to the ridiculous, artists have the power to capture and express what is going on in a way that can be understood and appreciated by the masses.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker joined The New Yorker 24 years ago to revitalize the magazine by bringing in new artists and engaging with the current time.

  • They realized that some of the humor had been lost over the years and began incorporating contemporary artists to capture the zeitgeist of different eras.

  • The speaker discusses the power of images and how they can capture moments, crystallize social trends, and rearrange stereotypes in readers' minds.

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