• Steven Heller

Paolo Garretto Was My Pen Pal

In the 1980s, a few years before his death, the great Italian caricaturist Paolo Garretto was my pen pal. We corresponded at least twice a month, usually with him sending me stories of his past life in Italy, New York and Monaco, where he lived to the end. I wrote a few stories about his life (including this one for Print), which included designing uniforms for Mussolini’s body guards and defining a style of art deco design.


In addition to the letters, I received monthly packages filled with various random clips he found around his studio (above). The material below, featured in the American Town & Country,Vanity Fair as well as the German Berliner Illlustriete Zeitung and a few unlabeled French magazines, show the range of caricature themes from 1940 (Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson) to 1958 (Onassis).

He enjoyed covering the rich and powerful, and finding their facial Achilles molehills to use in his delightful depictions. Garretto was rarely vicious, but the subjects knew all too well if he didn’t like them, when that facial tic they were trying to hide was blown out of proportion (as he did with the CEOs of America’s major industries, steel and telecommunications [below]).

The images here are from one of my many envelopes. Garretto was so prolific and until his death the envelopes just kept coming.

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#DailyHeller #PaoloGarretto #StevenHeller


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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.View all posts by Steven Heller →

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