I first met Andrew Kner (1935–2016), who died on Monday, over three decades ago when he was the Promotion art director for The New York Times. I could always visit him in his office, lounge around and shoot the breeze. Sometimes, the words were hot (when I needed a sympathetic ear); other times they were cool (when we talked about the great work that he or I had seen on any particular day). He ran a large department. I ran a small page that reached many (Op-Ed). We were both art directors of the Times Book Review; his tenure came before mine. I considered him a friend. And later, when I started writing for Martin Fox at Print magazine, I credited Andy with having some influence on that decision—which changed my life.
I haven’t seen much of him over the past few years. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease after leaving Print, and a few years later so was I. His progressed faster than mine. And being the ostrich that I tend to be, I stayed away from others with my ailment, hoping (believing!) it would go away if I denied its existence (not a good idea!). I did run into Andy about six months ago, coincidentally, at Philharmonic Hall. He was there to see the orchestra in which my cousin was playing first cello. My uncle, her father, was in a wheelchair just a row ahead of me. Andy and his wife Carol, former managing editor and executive editor of Print, were just two seats away in my row. Andy was frail, but his voice and wit were intact. It was a difficult moment for many reasons.
My uncle, 94, just passed away a month ago. Andy passed away a few days ago. Both people gave something to me: my uncle, an American history professor, a love of history and sense of rebellion. Andy, his friendship when I was a newbie at The Times and at Print.
I understand that Print will be doing some memorializing and showing some of Andy’s work during his long Print tenure (1962–1999). You can also read “The People Behind Print: An Oral History at 70″ as a pdf here, where Andy’s voice can be heard. I will show only a few icons, including the subway posters he did with Ed Sorel, Carol Anthony and others in the Cooper Hewitt collection.
I will end with a humble thank you, Andy. I’m so sorry you’re gone.
A short bio from The Cooper Hewitt Museum: Andrew Kner was born in Hungary, where his family has been involved in design and publishing since the 18th century. He came to the United States in 1940 at the age of 5, and received both his BA (1957) and MFA (1959) from Yale University. He worked in promotion design for Time Inc., Esquire and Look before joining The New York Times as art director for the Sunday Book Review. In 1970 he became executive art director at The New York Times Promotion Department, a position he held until 1984 when he left to join Backer & Spielvogel as senior vice president, creative director for Sales Promotion. In 1990 he left to join RC Publications as creative director and art director of Print and Scenario magazines (he art directed Print on a freelance basis from 1963 to 1990). He left RC Publications in April of 2000 to freelance. He has won over 150 awards for design and art direction. Posters he has designed are part of the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian and the Louvre. He taught communication design at Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. He served as president of the New York Art Directors Club from 1983 until 1985.
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