The Artists Equity Masquerade Ball was the highlight of the season, attracting the cream of the creme of New York’s creative community. Each year it issued a spiral bound program titled Improvisations, comprised of artwork created by masters like Ben Shahn, Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, Milton Avery, Raphael Soyer, Leo Lionni and many more, as advertisements for the various retail and non-profit sponsors.
The annual balls were held in spring at the Hotel Sheraton Astor. Each edition was limited to 2000 copies. This (above) is from the 1951 ball. The art was reproduced by litho, however, as if on a photocopier, on various color stocks. More sketch than final, the work has a freshness that made Improvisations a real collector’s treat.
(This and more like it are available here.)
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.