HOW STEINf AY USES MODERN ART BY CHARLES TCOINER Perhaps no advertising illustration of re cent times has created so much interest and discussion as the Covarrubias interpretation of George Gershwin's "American in Paris." This painting, which appeared in an adver tisement for Steinway Sons, was one of a series which featured the works of important composers. The modern quality of the can vas attracted a good deal of notice both in advertising and lay circles. "Is Steinway go ing modern?" it was asked. "Has this old- established house definitely recognized and accepted the most modern tendencies in art and music?" The answer is simply that Steinway Sons choose to be modern where modernity is re quired, and conservative where it seems best to be conservative. There is no definite policy covering the situation at all, nor is there any to guide the selection of advertising illustra tions employed. Each case is decided on its own merits. For some years it has been the custom to hang in Steinway Hall portraits of famous pianists and composers who have been iden tified with the name of Steinway, together with various paintings interpreting musical compositions closely associated with these artists. Most of these paintings have been used in Steinway advertising, and all of them have been done by artists of undisputed talent and reputation. Music and personalities vary. Each case has presented a different problem, and much care has been taken to select the man whose technique and point of view could best do justice to the commission. For example, when a portrait of Paderewski was wanted, Zuloaga was commissioned to do it, not because he was recognized as one of the most distin guished painters in the world, but because it was felt that his particular technique and personality was best equipped to interpret the character of Paderewski. When it was decided to feature Mr. Gersh win's "American in Paris" in Steinway ad vertising, it was immediately apparent that Covarrubias was the logical man to make the illustration. Covarrubias is a young Mexican of exceptional talent, whose work is gaining steadily in importance. His sketches of life in New York, especially Harlem, and in Ha vana, London and Paris, are well known. His ability as a serious painter is less widely un derstood. His paintings of Negro and Mexi can life are among the most important con tributions to contemporary art, and differ as widely from his humorous sketches in Vanity Fair as Goya's little brush sketches differ from his oil paintings. His very exceptional perception of human qualities and types, as evinced in his memorable cartoons, and par ticularly his close personal friendship with Mr. Gershwin and his knowledge of his ideas, combined to designate him as the one man for the task. Other painters whose work is represented in the Steinway collection include Zuloaga, Rockwell Kent, N. C. Wyeth, Pierre Brissaud, Everett Henry, Sergei Soudei'ken, F. Luis Mora, Boris Anisfeld, Earl Horter, Nicholas Remisoff, Harvey Dunn, Hans Larwin, Frank Macintosh, Peter Helck, Arnold Bochlin, and numerous others. 17

Advertising Arts en | 1930 | | page 33