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Drawing, Design for Saks Fifth Avenue Advertising Brochure

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Donald Deskey and from the office of Donald Deskey Associates and drafted by Donald Deskey. We acquired it in 1975. Its medium is pen and black ink, brush and black, gray wash, graphite on cream illustration board. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Pioneering designer Donald Deskey (1894-1989), celebrated for his Radio City Music Hall interiors and packaging designs including Crest toothpaste, also played a part in America’s retail transition during the late 1920s and 1930s. Fashionable department stores, led by those in New York City, made radical changes in window displays by rejecting traditional methods of unrelated product arrangements in favor of more unified, stylized spectacles. Sharp angles, jagged patterns, and cubist props rendered store windows as stages where the goods became the actors. Deskey’s Design for Saks Fifth Avenue Advertising Brochure (1927-1928) depicts transparent, shattering forms in near-monochromatic gray values that suggestthe influence of early Cubism and the popularized Francophiliac spirit. A framed picture of a woman holding a rose is overlaid by a combination of Parisian and American sources: two French books (“La Vie” and “La Jeunesse”) and a Picasso-esque guitar juxtapose with a tennis racket and sheet music entitled “Mammy” (probably citing the hit Jazz song performed by Al Jolson in the film The Jazz Singer” released in 1927). The designer would later impart that same enthusiasm to a wide range of domestic products, interiors, materials, and graphic design during his long career.

This object was donated by Donald Deskey.

Our curators have highlighted 4 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Object ID #18622971
  • wool.
  • Gift of Mrs. Robert Blasberg in memory of Robert Blasberg.
  • 1987-69-1
  • Object ID #404536683
  • engraved plate glass and chrome-plated metal.
  • Gift of George R. Kravis II.
  • 2018-22-39
  • Object ID #18487213
  • brush and silver paint, watercolor, pastel, graphite on off-white....
  • 1975-11-65

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for Saks Fifth Avenue Advertising Brochure; Designed by Donald Deskey (American, 1894–1989); USA; pen and black ink, brush and black, gray wash, graphite on cream illustration board; 1975-11-59

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18487079/ |title=Drawing, Design for Saks Fifth Avenue Advertising Brochure |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=26 January 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>