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Antonio Petruccelli's Little-Known Genius

Antonio Petruccelli published 28 covers, interiors, and infographics for Fortune between 1933 and 1945. He was a precisionist with a keen sense of wit and whimsy. His work is known to a few today, but otherwise forgotten. That’s why, if you are in New York, you should make your way to the Society of Illustrators before Saturday, December 1—the final day to see an exhibition of Petruccelli’s work organized by Edel Rodriguez. Here’s the Society’s notice:


Born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Antonio Petruccelli (1907–1994) developed his artistic talent at an early age and began his career as a textile designer. After winning several House Beautiful cover illustration contests, he became a freelance illustrator in 1932; subsequently his work appeared on the covers of Fortune, The New Yorker, Collier’s, Today and House Beautiful magazines. The art director for Fortune, Francis Brennan, said of Petruccelli, “Tony was Mr. Versatility for Fortune. He could do anything, from charts and diagrams to maps, illustrations, covers and caricatures.” Throughout his life, Petruccelli won many important design awards including a U.S. Postage stamp for the American Steel Industry’s 100th anniversary and a Bicentennial medal for the state of New Jersey.

Fortune covers were lavish production, printed by the gravure process on heavy card stock. Petruccelli made full use of the potential for rich and dense color, augmented with a great repertoire of hatch, scratch, and stipple. Many images on view suggest an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of Italian Futurism combined with an Art Deco sensibility. And his covers and illustrations weren’t only beautiful. As the Society notes, they “provided social commentary through the depiction of various aspects of American life, reflecting the social, economic and political atmosphere over several decades.”


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For more Steven Heller, check out The Education of an Illustrator—one of the many Heller titles available at MyDesignShop.com.

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