Advertising From the "Mad Men" Era

Courtesy of Taschen

The art of the sell -- modernism, wit and cultural revolutions in the '50s and '60s ads that changed America.

Want to dress like Don Draper? Go to a vintage clothing store. Want to understand how he saw the world? Flip through this book. In two handsome volumes -- on the '50s and '60s -- Taschen reminds us that advertising is some of the best and most enduring pop art of the 20th century. Talented and creative graphic artists and writers flocked to Madison Avenue after World War II, when advertising itself changed. A more freewheeling, less factual approach emphasized clean layouts and humorous copy. The groundbreaking 1960 VW "Lemon" ad (marveled at inside Sterling Cooper on Mad Men) exemplified the new approach. The ads also chart cultural revolutions: Sexism gives way to a tinge of feminism, black faces appear, mod fashion and graphics pop up. Yet it's startling how different the world was. More than the cigarette ads, airline ads surprise the modern eye. Real food and service in coach? Amazing. If only there were comprehensive captions. It would be nice to know the Mad Men behind the images.  

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