This is not the find of the century. Yet for the few Paolo Garretto fans out there, it might be a minor discovery of some note. I posted a pair of stories about Garretto, the Italian master of the moderne airbrush technique known for his Vanity Fair and Fortune covers, almost a year ago (here and here), so it is propitious to find two unknown pieces. While rummaging through a mound of ephemera, I came across these examples of late Garretto illustration that I had never seen reproduced in either magazines or books. Perhaps they are minor in his own oeuvre as well, but they’re significant insofar as they are beautiful examples of caricature and cartoon, lusciously printed in rich velvet-like color.
The two covers were commissioned for Le Scimmie e lo Specchio (The Monkey and the Mirror), an Italian theater-arts monthly. The magazine’s first incarnation lasted only seven years, from 1923 to 1930, and included contributions by the Futurist Enrico Prampolini and the illustrators Mario Pompei and Onorato. It was revived in 1945 when Garretto brightened up the newsstand with his covers. Garretto eventually emigrated from Italy to Monaco, yet continued to make art for Italian magazines.
For more of Steven Heller on the art and craft of illustration, be sure to read his book The Education of an Illustrator. And don’t miss Heller’s upcoming live DesignCast, “Researching Design History: From a Personal Perspective,” taking place on Wednesday, June 27.