Poster, "American Airlines to New York", ca. 1948
Lithograph on white wove paper. Gift of Mrs. E. McKnight Kauffer. 1963-39-139.
- Designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer
What is this?
Image consists of abstract New York skyscrapers dominating the center. At lower right, the American flag hangs from a building. In bold block print in light blue and white, upper right: AMERICAN / AIRLINES; in blue, lower left: TO NEW YORK; lower left, the American Airlines logo.
This object is full of stories
E. McKnight Kauffer was born in Montana but in the mid-1910s traveled to England, where he settled and became a successful commercial artist whose work helped to elevate the status of the poster to that of the fine arts. He believed art and commerce could exist harmoniously, and used fine-art styles and techniques in his celebrated poster designs. He maintained, however, that the goal of a poster, unlike a painting, was always to sell products. In 1940, at the outbreak of World War II, he moved to New York. Although he never gained the renown he experienced in England, he found work designing for corporate clients and war relief agencies. In 1946–1953, he produced more than thirty posters for American Airlines, most of which are represented in the Cooper Hewitt collection. Kauffer wrote that travel posters should convey in a simple and straightforward way, "the character of places, the manners and differences of people, architectural interests and amusements." He often focused on the places and their people, rather than the travel itself, as shown from this street view of soaring New York architecture. The geometric lines and restrained use of color were typical of his work at this time.